Soccer

Arsenal beats Hull to retain Premier League lead

LONDON (AP) — Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner scored his first Premier League goal for Arsenal in almost three years as the Gunners defeated Hull 2-0 on Wednesday to retain a four-point lead atop of the standings.

After being handed a rare start by manager Arsene Wenger, Bendtner headed in Arsenal's first goal after less than two minutes when he converted a fine cross from Carl Jenkinson at the conclusion of a brilliant move started by Aaron Ramsey.

Mesut Ozil slotted home Ramsey's reverse pass after the interval as the hosts secured a sixth straight home win. With a third of the season over, Arsenal leads the standings with 34 points, four more than Chelsea, which won 4-3 at Sunderland.

Wenger decided to give leading forward Olivier Giroud a rest and hand Bendtner his first league start of the season. "When he is physically sharp, he can compete with anybody. He had a good performance, has has the quality," Wenger said about Bendtner. "I believe in his quality and when he has that commitment and attitude his quality shows."

Bendtner, who had scored in his last two league appearances against Hull, made his first league start for Arsenal since March 2011 as the Gunners got off to a blistering start. They continued to push after opening the scoring, delighting their fans with their sharp and well-constructed moves. Santi Cazorla's goal-bound shot was blocked and Hull keeper Allan McGregor then spilled a low effort from Ozil which Bendtner could not turn in.

Arsenal dominated and created several chances but the Gunners' poor finishing prevented them from extending their lead before the interval as Ramsey smashed a 20-meter strike over the bar before McGregor denied him with a full-stretched save in the 31st minute.

But Arsenal's hunger finally paid off in the 47th minute when Nacho Monreal, on the left touchline, released the ball for Ozil. The German playmaker then passed it to Ramsey, with the Wales international turning away from goal and playing a precise reverse ball back into the path of Ozil, who coolly slotted home.

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