Arsenal will go into the Europa League knockout phase as Group E winners thanks to a comfortable 3-0 triumph over Vorskla with a much-changed team in Kiev on Thursday.
The switching of the fixture from Poltava due to security concerns made it a logistical nightmare, but Arsenal produced a professional display, their makeshift starting XI of youngsters and fringe players cruising to victory in sub-zero temperatures.
Arsenal were 3-0 up by half-time, with 18-year-old Emile Smith Rowe getting his third of the season, before Aaron Ramsey added a penalty and Joe Willock got off the mark for the club.
Unai Emery’s men were less incisive after the interval and were unfortunate to have a second Smith Rowe goal chalked off, but the result never looked in doubt and they ease into the next round as group winners, ahead of Sporting CP, with a game to spare.
Although Vorskla threatened a couple of times early on, Arsenal quickly established some control in the middle and got the opener in the 10th minute – Smith Rowe left with an easy finish after the ball broke kindly for him in the box.
The visitors doubled their advantage just before the half-hour mark, as Ramsey tucked home a penalty having been clumsily tripped by Igor Perduta.
And they were three to the good by half-time – Willock nonchalantly finding the bottom-right corner from 20 yards at the end of a rapid breakaway.
Arsenal thought they had made it 4-0 just after the hour, but Smith Rowe’s close-range tap-in from a Stephan Lichtsteiner cross was disallowed for offside.
Willock was denied a second of the day late on when released into the box by Bukayo Saka, with Bogdan Shust rushing out to make a good save, though it mattered little in the end.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 29, 2018
What does it mean? Young guns full of promise
Emery gave appearances to seven teenagers on Thursday, and all of them showed flashes of ability and promise. There is plenty of reason for optimism at Arsenal with the next generation.
Smith Rowe sparkles
Occupying a position on the left, Smith Rowe constantly cut inside and troubled the hosts’ defence with his directness. His link-up play and general game intelligence were excellent, and he was rewarded with a goal.
Perduta a weak link
Culpable for the Arsenal penalty with a comically clumsy challenge, Perduta looked out of his depth for most of the game, struggling to cope with Arsenal’s young, nippy attackers.
Key Opta Facts
– Arsenal have extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 18 games (W14 D4) – the Gunners last went longer without defeat between August and November 2016 (19 games).
– Arsenal have won their first away game against Ukrainian opposition having drawn one and lost four of their previous five such matches.
– Excluding qualifiers, Arsenal have kept three consecutive away clean sheets in European competition for the first time since a run of five en route to reaching the 2005-06 Champions League final.
– Arsenal have failed to score in just one of their last 18 away games in all competitions, a 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the second leg of last season’s Europa League semi-final.
Arsenal wrap up their Europa League campaign at home to Qarabag in two weeks, following Sunday’s north London derby with Tottenham and further Premier League clashes against Manchester United and Huddersfield Town. Vorskla are next in European action away to Sporting, who – like Arsenal – are already through.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!