A bloodied and bandaged Martin Skrtel headed home a last-gasp 97th-minute equaliser to earn Liverpool a 2-2 draw against Arsenal in the Premier League at Anfield on Sunday.
Having bossed the first half, Liverpool went ahead through Philippe Coutinho, only for goals from Mathieu Debuchy and Olivier Giroud to leave Arsene Wenger's Arsenal on the brink of a smash-and-grab victory.
But Giroud's accidental kick to Skrtel's head led to nine minutes of stoppage time and the tattooed Slovakian centre-back claimed his revenge with a memorable header in front of the Kop.
But though the goal – Skrtel's first of the season – gave Liverpool's fans some much-needed Christmas cheer, it did little to improve their team's standing in the table following a run of only two wins in nine games.
Brendan Rodgers's side, who had Fabio Borini sent off, are now 17 points below leaders Chelsea and nine points below the top four, while Arsene Wenger's Arsenal – destroyed 5-1 on their previous visit in February – trail the Champions League places by four points.
After Giroud conceded possession, Jordan Henderson played a pass into the feet of Coutinho, who threw Debuchy off-balance before drilling a low shot into the bottom-left corner.
There had been a sense of inevitability about the goal, but barely a minute later, Arsenal silenced the Kop by equalising with their first attempt at goal.
Alexis Sanchez's right-wing free-kick was half-cleared, Mathieu Flamini kept the ball alive, and Debuchy climbed at the back post to head home via a deflection off Skrtel.
Skrtel's misfortune continued early in the second period as he was left with a nasty gash on the back of his head after being accidentally kicked by Giroud, which prompted a six-minute stoppage in play.
But it was Arsenal who struck next. Giroud clipped Kieran Gibb's pass wide to Santi Cazorla and then exploited sluggish defending to meet the Spaniard's low cross with a shot that flew past Brad Jones.
Rodgers sent on strikers Borini and Rickie Lambert for the closing stages.
Borini drew a brilliant save from Szczesny with a late header, but after being booked for hurling the ball away when a throw-in decision went against him, he was sent off after catching Cazorla with a high foot.
Szczesny saved from Gerrard, but just as it looked like Arsenal would hang on, Skrtel met Gerrard's right-wing corner with an emphatic near-post header to earn the 10 men a point.
In the day's other game, Sunderland claimed a dramatic 1-0 victory at Newcastle United in the Tyne-Wear derby thanks to a 90th-minute goal from former Newcastle youth player Adam Johnson.
Luis Suarez scored his first Primera Division goal and Lionel Messi hit a late double as Barcelona rounded off a difficult 2014 by thrashing minnows Cordoba 5-0.
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Pedro got Barcelona off to a dream start by netting in the second minute and then provided the pass for Suarez to double the lead early in the second half, with Gerard Pique and Messi scoring the final goals all in the last 10 minutes.
The Catalans are now one point behind league leaders Real Madrid, but have played one game more than Carlo Ancelotti’s side, who took a break from league action this weekend to play the World Club Cup final against San Lorenzo.
Barca could only draw a blank at Getafe last week, but compensated with a glut of goals as the minutes ticked away.
Cordoba coach Miroslav Djukic promised before the game that his side would try to go “face to face” with Barca, but not even two minutes had gone in the game when the hosts took the lead.
Ivan Rakitic turned inside and lobbed the ball over the defensive line towards Pedro, who brought it down with one touch before rifling into the near top corner.
Cordoba’s response, though, was spirited and they had a couple of chances to equalise.
Nabil Ghilas raced down the right on the break but, faced with a difficult angle, shot into the side netting. The Algerian found a gap to shoot on the other side of the goal later in the half, but again fired the wrong side of the near post.
Suarez’s goal today https://t.co/VOJ7TW6fZA
— ❤️=⚽️ (@Total_Futbol_) December 20, 2014
Barca could only manage a few half-chances in the remainder of the half.
Suarez volleyed wide at the near post, Pedro shot just wide of the far post with a low shot from outside the area and, just before the break, Juan Carlos punched a Pique header from close range over the bar.
The hosts extended their lead in the 54th minute with a well-worked team goal.
Messi brought the ball forward and then gave it to Andres Iniesta, who played in Pedro. The goalscorer took on a defender before cutting the ball back for Suarez, who calmly poked the ball through the legs of Juan Carlos to register his first goal in eight league matches for Barca.
The Catalans came close to getting a third a few minutes later, Rakitic’s shot from 25 yards hammering the top of the far post.
Barca had to wait another 27 minutes for another goal, but then two arrived in quick succession.
Messi’s 2nd goal but look at his touch.
Pique headed Xavi’s free-kick in at the near post to score his second header in as many home league games and Messi got his customary goal by collecting a short corner and driving the ball into the top corner.
— ❤️=⚽️ (@Total_Futbol_) December 20, 2014
The Argentinian got his second in the last minute as he majestically brought down a high ball from Jordi Alba and smashed a shot past Juan Carlos at the near post.
David Silva struck a brace as Manchester City beat Crystal Palace, while Radamel Falcao reminded of his talents with the equaliser in Manchester United’s draw at Aston Villa.
Manchester City were not hampered by their lack of strikers as they beat Crystal Palace 3-0 to keep up the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Silva struck twice at the Etihad Stadium and Yaya Toure also got on the scoresheet as the champions moved level on points with the Blues at the top of the table. It was in-form City’s eighth successive win in all competitions – one short of equalling a club record.
— MCFC Montreal (@MCFCMontreal) December 20, 2014
Palace offered little in what was a routine victory for City, who will be pleased to have won so comfortably without injured strikers Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic, and captain Vincent Kompany.
Manchester United’s six-game winning run came to an end as they were held to a 1-1 draw by10-man Aston Villa.
Falcao scored just his second United goal, cancelling out Christian Benteke’s beautiful opener for the hosts.
Gabby Agbonlahor’s controversial red card – after a 50-50 challenge with Ashley Young – forced Villa to play the final 25 minutes with 10 men, but they held on to earn a deserved point.
Southampton brought their worst losing streak of the 21st century to a comprehensive end as they impressively dispatched Everton.
The astonishing start to life under Ronald Koeman recently came to a dramatic end, with Tuesday’s embarrassing Capital One Cup exit to third-tier Sheffield United a fifth successive defeat in all competitions.
That loss had repercussions far beyond denting confidence as suspension and injury problems mounted, yet Saints rallied to see off Everton 3-0 thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s own goal and second-half efforts from Graziano Pelle and Maya Yoshida.
— Ross MacLennan (@RossMaclennan) December 20, 2014
Charlie Austin returned from suspension to steal the show with a hat-trick as QPR recovered from two goals down at home to West Brom to win 3-2 and move out of the bottom three.
Harry Redknapp’s side looked like the QPR of old in the opening exchanges, gifting chances and possession to West Brom and operating with no defensive cohesion. West Brom took full advantage and raced into a two-goal lead courtesy of first Baggies’ goals for both Joleon Lescott and Silvestre Varela.
But QPR showed great resolve and it was that man Austin who was the hero of the piece once again, first tucking away a penalty three minutes after Varela’s strike, then turning home from close-range early in the second half and heading home an 85th minute winner to lift QPR to 15th in the table.
Elsewhere, a freak goal by Ki Sung-yueng gave Swansea a 1-0 victory at Hull City, first-half goals from Erik Lamela and Harry Kane ensured Tottenhambeat Burnley 2-1 and West Ham maintained their recent momentum and piled the pressure on Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson with a 2-0 victory at Upton Park – thanks to strikes from Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing.