Thursday, 19 September 2019

Eintracht Frankfurt 0-3 Arsenal: Saka punishes 10-man hosts

Bukayo Saka put 10-man Eintracht Frankfurt to the sword as Arsenal began their Europa League campaign with a 3-0 victory at the Commerzbank-Arena.

Making his second start for Arsenal, 18-year-old Saka opened his account for the club in the 85th minute and added an assist for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang two minutes later as a much-changed line-up bounced back from a second-half collapse against Watford in the Premier League on Saturday.

The late flurry came after Dominik Kohr was shown a second yellow card for a trip on Saka, with Joe Willock having opened the scoring, after another Saka assist, in an open encounter in Germany.

The trip to Frankfurt was expected to be Arsenal's toughest test in Group F – which also includes Standard Liege and Vitoria SC – but an impressive display ensured they will return to London with maximum points.

Arsenal should have taken the lead in the fifth minute when Lucas Torreira blazed over a half-volley from eight yards after Emiliano Martinez kept out Filip Kostic at the other end.

The Gunners drew first blood when Saka released Willock on the counter-attack and the midfielder cut inside from the left before seeing a shot deflect off David Abraham and loop in off the underside of the bar.

Granit Xhaka struck the crossbar with an in-swinging free-kick from wide on the right that had beaten Kevin Trapp, but Eintracht's hopes of equalising ended when Kohr tripped Saka for his second bookable offence.

Arsenal made the most of their numerical advantage and winger Saka whipped home a brilliant shot from 18 yards with five minutes remaining.

Martinez launched another late counter-attack as Eintracht continued to push, with Saka releasing Aubameyang – who earlier missed an open goal – for a cool finish that capped an important opening victory.

What does it mean? Arsenal not intimidated

Xhaka said the Gunners were "scared" in the second half of their 2-2 draw against Watford and will no doubt be pleased they did not cower in the face of a boisterous atmosphere this time around.

They showed the character that was absent at Vicarage Road by riding out the storm in an open second period against Adi Hutter's side, before making sure there was no late comeback with a pair of goals.

Saka the star

He may have looked a little nervy in the opening stages, but Saka grew in confidence as the game went on and had a hand in all three Arsenal goals. He created five chances across the match and hit the target with both his efforts on goal.

Dost misfires

Eintracht sold Luka Jovic, Ante Rebic and Sebastian Haller after their run to last season's semi-finals and on his first start Bas Dost struggled to match the performances they delivered. The former Sporting CP striker was unable to test Martinez with any of his three efforts before being replaced by Goncalo Paciencia.

What's next?

Arsenal will look to end a three-game winless run in the Premier League when they entertain Aston Villa on Sunday, while Eintracht host Borussia Dortmund on the same day.

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