Post-Match Report

Qarabag 0-3 Arsenal: How it happened

The Arsenal team celebrate Sokratis' goal against Qarabag

Qarabag FK -

Olympic Stadium, Baku
Europa League
Europa League
  Qarabag FK
   crest
Qarabag FK
0 3
  Arsenal
      
                  Sokratis (4)
                   Smith Rowe (53)
                   Guendouzi (79)
            
   crest
Arsenal
Sokratis (4)
Smith Rowe (53)
Guendouzi (79)

WHAT HAPPENED

Emile Smith Rowe, Matteo Guendouzi and Sokratis each scored their first goals for the club, as we returned from the Azerbaijan capital with an eighth consecutive win.

Unai Emery named a strong squad for this 4,000 kilometre trip, but it was three players with fewer than 20 appearances between them who scored the goals to see off a spirited Qarabag side at a hostile Olympic Stadium in Baku.

Defender Sokratis got the ball rolling early on, and second-half goals from Smith Rowe and Guendouzi sealed an excellent victory to keep us top of Europa League Group E.

The scoreline was comfortable in the end, but Arsenal had to dig deep for large periods, despite getting off to the perfect start.

From a fourth-minute Mohamed Elneny corner, Monreal rose well to head goalwards, and his effort deflected off Sokratis' leg, wrong-footing Vagner in the Qarabag goal. 

The Arsenal team celebrate Sokratis' goal at Qarabag

The Arsenal team celebrate Sokratis' goal at Qarabag

It was reward for a fast start. Arsenal monopolised possession and set about silencing the home fans in the Olympic Stadium. A thrusting run from wing back Sead Kolasinac on the left flank had created our first chance in the second minute - Elneny saw his shot charged down when the ball fell to him just inside the area.

Qarabag came back strongly after conceding, as the locals found their voice again, but Emile Smith Rowe - on his first European start - nearly doubled the lead when sliding in to meet Kolasinac's low cross. He could only find the side netting however.

Bernd Leno had been quiet in the opening exchanges, but was alert enough to make a smart save low to his left after a jinking run from Mahir Madatov.

The atmosphere was heating up inside the stadium, and although Arsenal weren't being allowed to settle in possession, they looked dangerous whenever Iwobi and Kolasinac combined on the left. The latter set up another chance for Smith Rowe in the box, but after he was crowded out, Guendouzi took over and saw his shot blocked.

We ended the half under pressure, and started the second period on the back foot too. In fact Qarabag had the ball in the net soon after the break, but it was correctly ruled out for offside.

Unai Emery had started the game with a three-man defence, but reverted to a back four for the second half, replacing Nacho Monreal with Lucas Torreira.

Qarabag were beginning to get on top, so Smith Rowe's first senior goal was particularly well-timed. Set up by fellow Hale End Academy product Alex Iwobi, he raced through on goal and neatly tucked the ball through Vagner's legs.

Emile Smith Rowe made history on Thursday night

Emile Smith Rowe made history on Thursday night

Arsenal had well and truly drawn the sting from the Azerbaijan champions, and Emery was able to bring on Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette in the second half to see the game out.

Iwobi was one of those replaced - he had another excellent game, and might just have done enough to keep his place at the weekend.

The game was well and truly killed off with another superbly-taken goal 10 minutes from time. Lacazette led a counter-attack, found Guendouzi on the edge of the area and the midfielder twisted and turned before placing his shot low into the corner.

Matteo Guendouzi's stats away at Qarabag

Matteo Guendouzi impressed at Qarabag

Danny Welbeck blazed a late chance well over the bar, but it couldn't spoil an excellent evening for the Gunners.

 

MATCH GALLERY


HOW IT HAPPENED

Click here to read play by play highlights of our fine matchday two win in Azerbaijan.

 

What we noticed from the Qarabag game

Smith Rowe stars, Nacho impresses and a new formation - read our analysis from the match

WHAT'S NEXT?

It's a quick turnaround for the Gunners who face Fulham at midday on Sunday at Craven Cottage. It's our last Premier League game for 15 days, as we aim to extend our winning run in the league into the October international break.