Vorskla Poltava 0-3 Arsenal: Unai Emery's side secure top spot in Europa League Group E

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Joe Willock

A youthful Arsenal side scored three first-half goals to cruise past Vorskla Poltava in Kiev and secure top spot in Europa League Group E.

The match had initially been in doubt because of security concerns in Poltava, but Uefa intervened and moved the tie to Ukraine’s capital.

Teenage forward Emile Smith Rowe scored his second goal in as many European starts, before Aaron Ramsey converted his first penalty for the club.

Nineteen-year-old Joe Willock claimed his first senior goal four minutes from half-time in below freezing conditions.

With qualification already certain before kick-off, Unai Emery’s men knew three points would clinch top spot because of a better head-to-head record with second-placed Sporting Lisbon.

Arsenal will now avoid the four best-placed teams teams dropping down from the Champions League in the last 32.

Arsenal’s youngsters shine in minus 12 degrees

Emery decided to promote several youngsters to the first team, after making 10 changes to the side that beat Bournemouth in the Premier League last weekend, with only centre-back Rob Holding retaining his place.

Smith Rowe, 18, and Willock were deployed either side of 19-year-old Eddie Nketiah in a front three, and it did not take long for the academy graduates to make an impact.

Arsenal took the lead in the 10th minute when the ball fell kindly to Smith Rowe inside the area following a deflection from a Vorskla defender.

The talented forward showed poise and composure to tuck the ball into the net, before Ramsey – in his final season for the club – dusted himself off after being bundled over inside the area to roll the ball past Bohdan Shust from the spot.

The Londoners continued to dominate the match, enjoying just under 60% of possession and limiting the hosts to only two shots on target – Petr Cech’s only real involvement in the bitter cold.

Willock added the gloss to an impressive first-half performance minutes before the interval with a finish of which club legend Thierry Henry would have been proud.

After being sprung clear by Mohamed Elneny’s through ball, Willock opened his body to bend the ball into the far corner.

Smith Rowe had the ball in the net for a second time, only for the goal to be disallowed for a dubious offside decision, but victory for the Gunners saw them extend their unbeaten run to 18 matches in all competitions.

Man of the match – Joe Willock (Arsenal)

Joe Willock

‘We took control after the first goal’ – what they said

Arsenal manager Unai Emery said: “In the first minute they started pushing and they had some action in attacking moments, but we stopped it well and then when we scored the first goal we took confidence and then took control of the game.”

On Emile Smith Rowe’s performance, Emery added: “He is taking confidence, he is taking responsibility and also I think today his performance in 90 minutes is very good. He is a good example for the other young players. We think they can help us but they need the confidence of playing matches, not only working with us in the training sessions.”

Arsenal continue using Europa League to breed goalscorers – the stats

  • Joe Willock became the 21st different goalscorer for Arsenal in the Europa League since the start of last season.
  • 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.
  • Emile Smith Rowe has scored three goals in his past four appearances for Arsenal in all competitions.
  • Since the re-branding of the competition in 2009-10 no Arsenal player has scored (five) or been directly involved (six) in more Europa League goals than Aaron Ramsey.

What’s next?

Arsenal return to Premier League action as they host Tottenham in the north London derby on Sunday, 2 December at 14:05 GMT.

The Gunners will complete their Europa League Group E campaign against Qarabag at Emirates Stadium on Thursday, 13 December at 20:00 GMT.

Line-ups

Vorskla Poltava

  • 1Shust
  • 4Perduta
  • 44Dallku
  • 17Chesnakov
  • 66Batista de Souza
  • 23SapaiSubstituted forMores da Cruzat 36'minutes
  • 6SklyarBooked at 29mins
  • 11SharparBooked at 32mins
  • 82RebenokSubstituted forSakivat 85'minutes
  • 10KulachSubstituted forKaneat 71'minutes
  • 26KolomoetsBooked at 72mins

Substitutes

  • 9Sergiychuk
  • 13Mysyk
  • 14Mores da Cruz
  • 21Tkachenko
  • 33Chizhov
  • 40Sakiv
  • 50Kane

Arsenal

  • 1Cech
  • 12Lichtsteiner
  • 25Jenkinson
  • 16HoldingBooked at 53minsSubstituted forMedleyat 60'minutes
  • 15Maitland-Niles
  • 4Elneny
  • 29GuendouziSubstituted forGilmourat 76'minutes
  • 59Willock
  • 8RamseySubstituted forSakaat 68'minutes
  • 55Smith-Rowe
  • 49Nketiah

Substitutes

  • 7Mkhitaryan
  • 26Martínez
  • 43Gilmour
  • 47Medley
  • 52Osei-Tutu
  • 72John-Jules
  • 87Saka
Referee:
Bartosz Frankowski

Match Stats

Home TeamVorskla PoltavaAway TeamArsenal
Possession
Home43%
Away57%
Shots
Home12
Away13
Shots on Target
Home2
Away9
Corners
Home2
Away11
Fouls
Home13
Away12

Live Text

Match ends, Vorskla Poltava 0, Arsenal 3.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Vorskla Poltava 0, Arsenal 3.

Attempt missed. Nicolas Careca (Vorskla Poltava) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Igor Perduta.

Attempt missed. Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal) left footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Mohamed Elneny.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Taras Sakiv.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Bogdan Shust.

Attempt saved. Joe Willock (Arsenal) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Bukayo Saka.

Offside, Arsenal. Charlie Gilmour tries a through ball, but Bukayo Saka is caught offside.

Foul by Joe Willock (Arsenal).

Aleksandr Sklyar (Vorskla Poltava) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Substitution

Substitution, Vorskla Poltava. Taras Sakiv replaces Pavlo Rebenok.

Delay in match Joe Willock (Arsenal) because of an injury.

Foul by Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal).

Ardin Dallku (Vorskla Poltava) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Vladimir Chesnakov (Vorskla Poltava) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Vyacheslav Sharpar.

Attempt blocked. Pavlo Rebenok (Vorskla Poltava) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Nicolas Careca.

Stephan Lichtsteiner (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Ibrahiim Kane (Vorskla Poltava).

Substitution

Substitution, Arsenal. Charlie Gilmour replaces Matteo Guendouzi.

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Igor Perduta (Vorskla Poltava).

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Bogdan Shust.

Attempt saved. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Mohamed Elneny.

Hand ball by Bukayo Saka (Arsenal).

Booking

Yury Kolomoets (Vorskla Poltava) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Yury Kolomoets (Vorskla Poltava).

Substitution

Substitution, Vorskla Poltava. Ibrahiim Kane replaces Vladyslav Kulach.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Bogdan Shust.

Attempt saved. Emile Smith-Rowe (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Matteo Guendouzi.

Attempt saved. Igor Perduta (Vorskla Poltava) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Attempt blocked. Nicolas Careca (Vorskla Poltava) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Vladyslav Kulach.

Substitution

Substitution, Arsenal. Bukayo Saka replaces Aaron Ramsey.

Offside, Arsenal. Stephan Lichtsteiner tries a through ball, but Eddie Nketiah is caught offside.

Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Vladimir Chesnakov (Vorskla Poltava).

Substitution

Substitution, Arsenal. Zech Medley replaces Rob Holding.

Attempt missed. Artur (Vorskla Poltava) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Vladyslav Kulach.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Pavlo Rebenok.

goal

References

  1. ^ Giroud double helps Chelsea sink PAOK and top Europa League table (www.bbc.co.uk)
  2. ^ Line-ups (www.bbc.co.uk)
  3. ^ Match Stats (www.bbc.co.uk)
  4. ^ Live Text (www.bbc.co.uk)

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