LONDON (Reuters) - Olivier Giroud scored with a superb, improvised backheeled volley as Arsenal eased past struggling Crystal Palace with a 2-0 win that moved them into third spot in the Premier League on Sunday.
The France international produced a flying scorpion-like flick with his left heel to convert Alexis Sanchez’s cross while tumbling forward following an Arsenal counter-attack, which helped build with another neat flick, in the 17th minute.
It was uncannily similar to Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s goal for Manchester United against Sunderland on Boxing Day and had pundits and fans discussing its credentials as a goal of the season contender.
Bearded striker Giroud, who has netted six times in his last four Premier League starts, called it lucky but said it was probably the best goal he had scored.
”It is not difficult to say it is the best one,“ Giroud said. ”I was a bit lucky but it was the only thing I could do, the ball was behind me and I tried to hit it with a backheel. It’s the only thing you can do in that position.
“It is nice for me and the team because we start the year with a win.”
While Arsenal’s first goal was a stunning piece of improvisation their second after 55 minutes was a messy affair with Alex Iwobi’s looping header dropping in via Palace defender Joel Ward who failed to make a goalline clearance.
Christian Benteke wasted the best of Palace’s few chances when he headed wide shortly before Iwobi’s effort and though Sam Allardyce’s side did briefly rally having fallen two goals behind they never looked likely to get back into the game.
Arsenal moved above Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur into third, nine points behind rampant leaders Chelsea and one ahead of Tottenham, who beat Watford 4-1 away earlier on Sunday.
Palace are hovering just above the trapdoor and Allardyce, who replaced Alan Pardew just before Christmas, was already looking ahead to Tuesday’s clash with bottom club Swansea City.
“Our season won’t be defined by results against the top six. What we do when we play the teams in the bottom half of the league will be the defining reason of whether or not we get out of the bottom half,” the former England manager said.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Mitch Phillips