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Arsenal have final say on Cardiff’s emotional night

Smash and carry: Aubameyang gets a lift from fellow goalscorer Lacazette PICTURE: GETTY

Arsenal 2-0 Cardiff

ARSENAL maintained their drive for Champions League football next season with a hard-fought victory against stubborn Cardiff on an emotional night at a snowy Emirates Stadium.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tucked away a 66th-minute penalty after Bruno Manga fouled Sead Kolasinac before Alexandre Lacazette sealed three vital points with seven minutes left to lift the Gunners level with Chelsea, who play tonight, in fourth.

It may not have been a vintage effort from Arsenal but with an injury-hit defence and wintry weather it was a night when style was not important.

Cardiff were playing for the first time since the disappearance of the plane carrying striker Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson last week, and there was a minute’s reflection before kick-off with Bluebirds fans holding aloft yellow cards in tribute.

The visitors could have taken an early lead but Bobby Reid flashed narrowly wide before heading over.

Nacho Monreal was lucky not to give away a penalty while Lacazette had two claims rejected by Mike Dean.

Substitute Nathaniel Mendez-Laing grabbed a consolation and although Cardiff stay in the bottom three, Neil Warnock (pictured) insisted such a gallant effort in difficult circumstances was their best display of the season.

‘What a performance, if Arsenal had our chances they would’ve beaten us by four,’ he said.

‘We talked about Emiliano before the game and I thought it was appropriate we gave a good account of ourselves.’

Programme tribute for tragic Sala

EMILIANO SALA’S absence was marked by Arsenal at Cardiff’s first game since the disappearance of the plane carrying the striker. Sala’s name was included on the squad list in the programme, alongside an image of a daffodil.

BARCELONA midfielder Denis Suarez is close to sealing a loan deal to Arsenal. The 25-year-old will join the Gunners until the end of the season with an option to buy in the summer. Barca boss Ernesto Valverde said: ‘I know Denis was in this situation. It’s not official yet and we have to wait a little. It was a possibility everyone valued, and we hope things go well.’