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Koscielny returns as Lacazette's goal helps youthful Arsenal get the job done

Already through to the next stage, they ran out 1-0 winners over Qarabag in the Europa League.

Laurent Koscielny made his comeback.
Laurent Koscielny made his comeback.
Image: Adam Davy

ALEXANDRE LACAZETTE’S FIRST Europa League goal of the season secured Arsenal a straightforward 1-0 home win over Qarabag as Unai Emery took the opportunity to blood young and returning players in a pressure-free match.

The Gunners were confirmed as winners of Europa League Group E after their 3-0 win over Vorskla and Emery handed Laurent Koscielny his first competitive start since last season’s semi-final, while Mesut Ozil made his first appearance after a back injury.

With Qarabag already eliminated from the competition, the game was played like an exhibition match, but there were flashes of brilliance from 17-year-old midfielder Bukayo Saka, making his first start for Arsenal on the left wing.

Lacazette’s eighth goal of the season in the 16th minute settled the game, allowing Emery to turn his focus to pushing Arsenal into the Premier League’s top four.

Saka had a swerving effort from the edge of the box saved by Qarabag goalkeeper Vagner after nine minutes, moments before Mesut Ozil played in Lacazette, who took a touch to beat his marker before rifling home from the corner of the six-yard box.

Arsenal v Qarabag - UEFA Europa League - Group E - Emirates Stadium Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game. Source: EMPICS Sport

When Maksim Medvedev had the opportunity to hit back for the visitors from a cross that found him at the far post, he was denied by a challenge by Sokratis Papasthathopoulos whose effortless defending set the tone for the rest of Arsenal’s evening.

Saka missed the chance to become Arsenal’s youngest European goalscorer when fellow academy product Zech Medley’s cross fell to him on the edge of the six-yard box. but his shot deflected wide, and the teenager then put Ozil through for another squandered chance.

Eddie Nketiah had a wonderful effort ruled out when Saka curled the ball onto his head and he diverted it into the net, only to see the offside flag raised. And Saka himself missed a golden opportunity to score when Vagner denied him at point-blank range in the last minute.

Murray Kinsella, Gavan Casey and Eddie O’Sullivan preview another big weekend of Heineken Cup action and dissect the week’s main talking points.


Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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