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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Tom Blow

Thomas Partey pays tribute to compatriot Christian Atsu after scoring in Arsenal victory

Thomas Partey paid an emotional tribute to the late Christian Atsu after helping Arsenal complete a stunning comeback on Saturday.

Atsu sadly fell victim to last month's disastrous earthquake in Turkey and Syria, which has claimed the lives of more than 50,000 people. Partey played alongside Atsu at international level for Ghana, with the latter earning 65 caps before passing away aged 31.

Partey was keen to pay his respects to his former team-mate after Arsenal recovered from two goals down to beat Bournemouth 3-2 at the Emirates. The Ghanaian midfielder scored Arsenal's first goal to help them maintain a five-point lead at the top of the table.

After Saturday's result was confirmed, Partey took off his Arsenal shirt to reveal a message to Atsu. It read, "Rest well, Christian Atsu."

Former Premier League star Atsu was on the books at Turkish club Hatayspor when the earthquake struck the region on Monday, February 6. He scored the winner for Hatayspor in their Super Lig game against Kasimpasa the night before the devastating event.

Atsu was reported as missing within hours of the earthquake. It was initially announced that the winger was found alive after being pulled from the rubble on Tuesday, February 7. Yet two days later, it was confirmed that Atsu was still missing.

Thomas Partey paid tribute to Christian Atsu at full-time (Getty Images)

On Saturday, February 18, Atsu's death was announced. His body was flown back to Ghana for the funeral, which will take place later this month. Partey's family recently attended a service to commemorate Atsu's life. "Always in my heart," tweeted Partey.

Atsu spent much of his career in England. He represented Chelsea, Everton, Bournemouth and Newcastle - playing more than 100 games for the latter club. He also spent time at Porto, Rio Ave, Vitesse, Malaga and Al Read, as well as Hatayspor.

Saturday was the first time Partey has started a Premier League game since Atsu's passing. Arsenal were tipped to beat Bournemouth due to their respective positions. The Cherries started the day in the relegation zone, while the Gunners topped the table.

Yet Bournemouth did not get the memo, as Philip Billing scored inside the first minute. The Denmark international needed just 9.11 seconds to beat Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale - making his effort the second-fastest goal in Premier League history.

Marco Senesi's 57th-minute header made it 2-0 to Bournemouth, but Partey's goal soon halved the deficit. Ben White equalised in the 70th minute before Reiss Nelson's dramatic last-gasp goal snatched the unlikeliest of victories for Mikel Arteta's side.

The result leaves Arsenal in a commanding position with 12 Premier League fixtures remaining. Title rivals Manchester City also tasted victory on Saturday, as they defeated Newcastle 2-0 at the Etihad thanks to goals from Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva.

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