Giroud header seals Arsenal win in season-opener

Arsenal’s French striker Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring Arsenal’s fourth goal during their English Premier League match against Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium in London Friday. — AFP

LONDON — Arsenal had to come from behind twice to beat Leicester City 4-3 in a thriller as the Premier League season got off to a flying start Friday with Arsene Wenger’s substitutions turning the match around at The Emirates.

Olivier Giroud came off the bench to head a late winner after Aaron Ramsey had brought Arsenal level at 3-3 following a Jamie Vardy double for the visitors. The home side’s new French signing Alexandre Lacazette had given it an early lead.

The match was a great advert for a league that is already prime box office viewing worldwide but Arsenal’s hopes of a first title since 2004 will require some polishing of a rusty defense after Leicester put away half of its chances.

Arsenal looked a beaten team when Leicester led 3-2 early in the second half after Vardy grabbed his second goal before the substitutions gave it new vigor in attack.

Giroud’s clever header in the 85th minute secured the points after Lacazette had taken just 94 seconds to make his mark with a header from Mohamed Elneny’s curling cross, equaling the record for the fastest opening goal in a Premier League season.

The lead lasted three minutes before Leicester’s new signing Harry Maguire headed Marc Albrighton’s cross from the left back into the middle and Shinji Okazaki nodded the ball past flailing Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Leverkusen, ‘Gladbach dig deep to progress

Bayer Leverkusen isn’t known for giving its coaches an easy ride.

Heiko Herrlich endured a frustrating night on his competitive debut Friday, before three goals in extra time finally secured his side’s progress 3-0 against third-division Karlsruher SC in the first round of the German Cup.

Dominik Kohr finally made the breakthrough minutes into extra time with a header to Julian Brandt’s free kick, Pohjanpalo then made up for his earlier miss, and Leon Bailey gave the score a flattering look with his first competitive goal for the side.

Borussia Moenchengladbach also needed to dig deep to win at Rot-Weiss Essen 2-1.

Dynamo Dresden beat fourth-tier side Koblenz 3-2 thanks to Markus Schubert saving a late penalty, and Holstein Kiel came from behind to defeat second-division rival Eintracht Braunschweig 2-1 after defender Joseph Baffo was sent off for conceding the penalty from which Kiel equalized.

Nice lose again

Nice slumped to a 2-1 home defeat by promoted Troyes on Friday and having now lost its opening two Ligue 1 games it cannot wait for new recruit Wesley Sneijder to be fit enough to play.

The southern French side, which is missing injured striker Mario Balotelli, was wasteful up front and surrendered the points when Saif-Eddine Khaoui struck five minutes from time.

Nice’s Alassane Plea netted a penalty just past the hour to cancel out Adama Niane’s opener for the visitors. — Agencies