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Arsenal beats Wolves 3-0 in Premier League
WOLVERHAMPTON, England (AP) Arsenal cruised to an easy 3-0 victory over last-place Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday to strengthen its grip on third place in the Premier League.
Robin van Persie put Arsenal ahead from the spot in the ninth minute after Sebastien Bassong was sent off for pushing down Theo Walcott in the area. Walcott doubled the lead just two minutes later after playing a quick one-two with Van Persie and slotting a low shot inside the near post, and Arsenal rarely looked threatened the rest of the way.
Yossi Benayoun made it 3-0 in the 69th to ensure that Wolves moved even closer to relegation, nine points from safety with just five games remaining.
Arsenal is five points clear of Tottenham and Newcastle in the fight for the last automatic Champions League spot.
It was Arsenal's ninth win in 10 games after trailing Spurs at the start of February by eight points, while Wolves suffered their seventh straight defeat.
Van Persie had the first attempt on goal after his own corner had been cleared straight back to him, but the striker's low volley was comfortably dealt with by Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.
He scored a few minutes later though, after Bassong was adjudged to have brought down Walcott as he raced onto Benayoun's pass and was sent off by referee Neil Swarbrick.
Van Persie stepped up and calmly chipped the ball over Hennessey after he had dived to the right for his 34th goal of the season and first in five matches.
Wolves made an instant substitution with defender Christophe Berra replacing midfielder David Davis as they reverted to a 4-4-1 system. But they could not handle the pace of Walcott and he doubled Arsenal's lead in the 11th.
The England player exchanged passes with Van Persie before curling the ball past Hennessey into the corner of the net.
Wolves threatened briefly in the second half but Benayoun put the game beyond doubt when he took a pass from Alex Song and beat Hennessey with a low drive from 20 yards.
Updated April 11, 2012