Arsenal ease to Europa League victory over Qarabag FK
Three new goalscorers as Gunners’ winning run goes on
04 October, 2018 — By Steve Barnett
Arsenal boss Unai Emery
Europa League: Group E
QARABAG FK 0
ARSENAL 3 (Sokratis 4, Smith Rowe 53, Guendouzi 80)
A HAT-TRICK of maiden goalscorers helped Arsenal maintain their 100 per cent start in the Europa League last night (Thursday) as the north Londoners beat Qarabag FK.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Emile Smith Rowe and Matteo Guendouzi were all on target as the Gunners won 3-0 in Azerbaijan to stretch their winning run to eight games in all competitions.
The visitors received a hostile reception at the Baku National Stadium, jeered every time they got anywhere near the ball.
But Unai Emery’s side weren’t about to let the baying home crowd get to them, as they raced into the lead within four minutes of the kick-off.
Sead Kolasinac outmuscled Qarabag skipper Maksim Medvedv before teeing up Danny Welbeck, whose poked effort was saved by the goalkeeper.
The deadlock was broken in fortuitous fashion from the resulting corner. Nacho Monreal nodded Mohamed Elneny’s corner towards goal, the effort hit Sokratis in the six-yard box and nestled nicely into the corner of the net.
The fluke finish was all that separated the two sides at the break following 45 minutes of half-chances for both teams.
Qarabag made a bright start to the second period and thought they had been rewarded with an equaliser when Mahir Madatov added the finishing touches to Innocent Emeghara’s through ball.
But the celebrations were cut short as the goal was chalked off after Madatov strayed a yard offside.
Arsenal could have conceded at one end, but instead were celebrating at the other as the night of first goals for the club continued.
Eighteen-year-old Smith Rowe marked his second Arsenal start with his first senior goal on 52 minutes, collecting Alex Iwobi’s well-weighted pass before slipping a neat finish in at the near post.
The hat-trick of first time goal-getters was rounded off in the 80th minute when Guendouzi completed a slick Arsenal move, casually rolling in a low finish from the edge of the box to make it 3-0.
Emery’s side didn’t have everything their own way in Baku, though, with goalkeeper Bernd Leno reinforcing his claim to be the permanent number one by making no fewer than three decent saves throughout the game.
Arsenal return to Premier League action at noon on Sunday when they face newly-promoted Fulham at Craven Cottage.
ARSENAL: Leno, Holding, Sokratis, Monreal (Torreira, 46), Lichtsteiner, Guendouzi, Elneny, Kolasinac, Smith-Rowe (Özil, 65), Welbeck, Iwobi (Lacazette, 71)
Subs not used: Bellerin, Mustafi, Martínez, Xhaka
QARABAG FK: Vagner, Medvedev, Huseynov, Rzezniczak, Agolli, Michel, Garayev (Slavchev, 84), Madatov (Delarge, 61), Ozobic (Abdullayev, 67), Zoubir, Emeghara
Subs not used: Halldorsson, Mammadov, Huseynov, Diniyev