Arsenal boosted their hopes of a top-four finish by scoring three times in the closing six minutes to floor Norwich 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium - but they needed the help of a contentious decision by a linesman to help them.
Norwich moved ahead with their first effort on goal of the match on 57 minutes as Michael Turner rose to nod into the net from Robert Snograss's free-kick.
It looked like being an unlikely winner for Chris Hughton's side until a linesman pointed to the spot for the award of a foul on 85 minutes as Kei Kamara tangled with Olivier Giroud five yards or so from the home goal.
Mikel Arteta kept his composure to sweep the ball past Mark Bunn, who had been booked seconds earlier for protesting vehemently. He managed to get a hand to the ball as he dived to his left but could not keep out the pace of shot.
Norwich suddenly looked dazed and fell behind on 87 minutes when some cute play by Arsenal saw substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain set up Giroud to stab the ball home from close range as Sebastian Bassong was left helpless with Bunn a spectator.
The home players celebrated with some relish as the air of depression visibly lifted from the home fans despite the drizzle.
With six minutes added onto the match, home substitutes Theo Walcott and Lucas Podolski ensured their side a nerve-free final few minutes when Podolski drilled the ball beyond Bunn for the match-clinching third goal.
Arsenal are a point clear of Tottenham and Chelsea, who have played a game less, with the Blues contesting their FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City on Sunday.
The last time Arsenal scored three goals in the last ten minutes + injury time of a Premier League match was in December, when they scored their last three goals in their 7-3 home win over Newcastle.
This may prove to be just as important in their ongoing quest for Champions League football.
Arsenal had the best of a fairly turgid first period with Giroud heading a Bacary Sagna cross onto the top of the bar and over on 22 minutes.
Gervinho then rounded Bunn, but dragged the ball too far wide as he failed to direct a shot on goal with Norwich dashing back frantically.
Sagna again managed to wriggle free in the Norwich area, but this time Bunn managed to halt Giroud's effort from the cross with Turner marking tightly.
Russell Martin raced onto a pass from Sebastien Bassong with Arsenal pushing for the equaliser, but Lukasz Fabianski made the save.
Podolski then walloped a volley off the bar before the mayhem began in the final few moments.
Fabianski made another solid stop to prevent Jonny Howson from equalising for Norwich one minute from time before Podolski sealed it for the home side from the edge of the opposing area.
Arsenal were never at their best, but came to life at the key moment of the match after a linesman decided Kamara had tugged the shirt of Giroud.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Olivier Giroud - Not spectacular, but kept plugging away up front for the home side. And got his rewards late on.
Arsenal: Fabianski 6, Sagna 6, Vermaelen 6, Koscielny 6, Gibbs 6, Arteta 6, Wilshere 5, Ramsey 6, Cazorla 6, Gervinho 5, Giroud 7..subs: Oxlade-Chamberlain 7, Walcott 7, Podolski 7
Norwich: Bunn 6; R.Martin 6, Bassong 7, Turner 7, Whittaker 6; Johnson 6, Howson 6, Tettey 6, Snodgrass 6, Kamara 5; Holt 6..subs: Jackson 6, Fox 6,
- Sports & Recreation
- Olivier Giroud