Nacho Monreal had his shot deflected into the net by Leicester defender Robert Huth for the decisive goal. Photo: Stefan Wermuth, Reuters

LONDON – Arsenal kept alive their hopes of securing a 20th successive Champions League campaign by beating last year’s Premier League champions Leicester City 1-0 with a late own goal at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

Arsene Wenger’s side, who have now won four of their last five league and cup games, had most of the first-half possession.

But it was Leicester who carved out the best early chances, Jamie Vardy firing a first-time shot into the side-netting and then Riyad Mahrez forcing a superb save from Petr Cech.

Kasper Schmeichel had to save smartly from Theo Walcott before Alexis Sanchez rattled the Leicester bar, and Granit Xhaka went close after the break with a deflected shot that Schmeichel just reached.

But it was another deflected effort – by Nacho Monreal, in the 86th minute, that deflected off Robert Huth – that finally undid Leicester and earned Arsenal the three vital points.

The result left Arsenal four points short of that crucial fourth Champions League spot. Leicester are six points above the relegation places, just 12 months after they won the league.

* Middlesbrough gave themselves a lifeline and virtually condemned north-east rivals Sunderland to relegation with Marten de Roon’s early goal earning a 1-0 win.

The Riverside Stadium basement battle was a torrid affair, and De Roon settled it after eight minutes when he stabbed a shot through the legs of Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford.

Second-bottom Boro hung on for their first league victory of 2017 to move to within six points of 17th-placed Hull City.

Sunderland are 12 points adrift of Hull with only five games remaining and their cause looking hopeless.

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