Alexandre Lacazette scored his first goal at his new home as we lost 2-1 to Sevilla, but we still won the Emirates Cup on goal difference on Sunday.
Having put ourselves into a commanding position with a 5-2 victory over Benfica on Saturday afternoon, we knew anything better than a heavy defeat would ensure the trophy remained in north London for another year.
But a strong Sevilla team stood in our way. It had taken the Europa League’s most successful side a controversial penalty to overcome RB Leipzig on the opening day, but Eduardo Berizzo’s men started this game with plenty of attacking intent.
Looking long whenever Daniel Carrico collected the ball deep into his own half, the visitors nearly found an early breakthrough when Wissam Ben Yedder escaped Nacho Monreal, but the French forward saw his low strike cannon off the foot of the post.
We grew into the game, though, and were soon looking dangerous down our right flank. First Hector Bellerin combined well with Joe Willock to release Lacazette, who missed an early chance to get his Emirates career off to a flying start.
Five minutes later we were on the attack again. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, playing at left wing-back, powered past two Sevilla defenders and found Bellerin free at the far post, but the Spain international lashed his volley over the crossbar from six yards.
Danny Welbeck was next to try his luck, as he linked up well with Lacazette to burst into the box and poke off target, before Aaron Ramsey wriggled away from three defenders to curl just wide of the top corner.
There was time for one more Sevilla chance at the end of a frantic first half when former Manchester City forward Nolito breached our back three, but his unselfish decision to square for Ben Yedder allowed Laurent Koscielny to race back and clear the danger underneath his own crossbar.
Sevilla started the second half in similar fashion and only had to wait another four minutes for the breakthrough when Joaquin Correa beat our offside trap to slide beyond the onrushing Petr Cech.
Now searching for an equaliser, Mohamed Elneny started to step into midfield when we attacked, allowing Ramsey to push forward - and it nearly paid off immediately. The Wales midfielder charged into the box and laid a first-time pass to Lacazette, who shot straight at Sergio Rico.
World-class strikers do not need to be asked twice, though, and when Oxlade-Chamberlain’s low cross had evaded Welbeck, Lacazette was in the right place to coolly slot home at the far post.
Our new striker’s joy would be short lived, though, as Steven N’Zonzi looped a left-footed strike over Cech and into the top corner to restore Sevilla’s lead just six minutes later.
Ramsey led the charge as we looked for a second equaliser of the afternoon, but the midfielder could not finish past Rico after he had done so well to control Lacazette’s pass.
With three minutes remaining, and Sevilla needing just one more goal to claim the trophy, the visitors broke forward again. Ganso steamed through the middle and looked for the unmarked Sebastien Corchia in the box, but Cohen Bramall stuck out an important leg to ensure the Emirates Cup remained in north London for another year.
It may not have gone our way on the day, but it has given us plenty to work on ahead of next weekend’s trip to Wembley. Bring on the Community Shield.
AS IT HAPPENED
JOE’S ONE FOR THE FUTURE
Chris Willock may have received a warm ovation when he returned to N5 with Benfica, but his younger brother made sure he stole the show.
Starting alongside Ramsey in central midfield, the teenager - who does not turn 18 until August 20 - produced the kind of mature performance his seasoned partner would be proud of.
After a nervy first few minutes, Willock settled himself with some neat touches and passes to keep our midfield ticking over during the opening exchanges.
An early Sevilla penalty shout against the youngster could have curtailed his defensive instincts, but he continued to track the visitors’ runners and remained composed enough to pass the ball out of our own box under pressure.
Combining well with Bellerin on the right-hand side and making intelligent supporting runs through the middle, Willock looked right at home during his hour in the spotlight the Emirates and, if this performance was anything to go by, it will not be the last we see of the youngster in our first team this season.
Our pre-season schedule has taken us from Sydney to Shanghai, and from Beijing to Islington, but next weekend’s game at Wembley will undoubtedly be our toughest test.
We may have beaten Chelsea on our last visit to northwest London - the Emirates FA Cup final just two months ago - but last week’s friendly defeat at Bird’s Nest Stadium serves as a timely reminder that Antonio Conte’s side will be out for revenge this time around.
They come into next Sunday’s game on the back of consecutive defeats against Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, looking to rebuild confidence and momentum ahead of their Premier League title defence.
Referee: Andre Marriner
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