Alexis Sanchez scored twice as Arsenal stayed on course to secure second place in the Premier League by beating lowly Hull City 3-1 at the KC Stadium.
Arsenal’s saw hopes of winning the title ended when Chelsea were crowned champions on Sunday, but they moved a step closer to finishing runners-up by stretching their unbeaten run to 10 Premier League outings on Monday to move level with Manchester City, whom they hold a game in hand over.
Chile international Sanchez took his tally to 24 goals in his first season at the club with a first-half brace either side of Aaron Ramsey’s 10th of the campaign.
Sanchez’s opener and Ramsey’s strike both came with the aid of deflections which deceived Steve Harper, but there was no element of fortune when the duo combined to great effect for Arsenal’s 100th goal of the season which put them three up at half-time.
Stephen Quinn scored his first top-flight goal for Hull shortly after the break, but the damage had been done and despite having won their previous two matches, Steve Bruce’s side dropped to 17th on goals scored, one point above third-bottom Sunderland with three games remaining.
The first of those is a crunch clash with Burnley, who must win at the KC Stadium on Saturday if they are to stave off relegation.
Hull will require greater luck in that fixture after Sone Aluko wasted a good opening early on and Arsenal were rewarded for their own positive start 28 minutes in when Sanchez’s free-kick struck the head of Michael Dawson, wrong-footing Harper on its way into the net.
Things went from bad to worse for Hull five minutes later, with another deflected strike putting them further behind.
Santi Cazorla spotted Ramsey’s forward run and the Wales midfielder controlled the Spaniard’s fine pass instantly before turning and letting fly with a shot from inside the penalty area which hit Robbie Brady before looping into the far corner of the net.
Hull were struggling to cope with Sanchez’s movement and Harper did well to deny him when Cazorla split open the home side’s defence with a sublime pass.
Bruce’s side failed to learn their lesson as Sanchez struck again in first-half stoppage time, rounding the goalkeeper with his first touch and finishing with his second after Ramsey turned provider with an incisive pass.
Hull pulled a goal back out of the blue 11 minutes into the second half, with Quinn the unlikely scorer as he timed his run to perfection to head home Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross from close range.
Arsenal felt referee Lee Mason should have awarded a free-kick for a David Meyler challenge on Laurent Koscielny before Elmohamady’s cross and they almost conceded again as Paul McShane headed just over the crossbar.
Sanchez spurned two good openings for his hat-trick, but his double was enough, though Nikica Jelavic’s return from two months out may provide a crumb of comfort for Hull ahead of the weekend’s visit of Burnley.
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