By Rob Kelly
We had to fight from a goal down to claim victory in our opening game of this season’s Europa League at Rapid Vienna on Thursday.
In a match played in front of around 3,000 supporters, we found it tough going against the Austrians but in the end second-half goals from David Luiz and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang proved enough to seal the points.
Once the teamsheets came out, much of the pre-match talk centred around Thomas Partey’s inclusion for his full debut – and he wasted little time in making an impression.
During a tightly contested first half, the Ghana international stood out for the precision of his passing, his anticipation and his physicality. This was an impressive first showing.
Partey was pulling the strings in midfield with his progressive passing, and one line-breaking ball through to Alex Lacazette nearly created a chance for Bukayo Saka.
But our new signing showed his value at the other end of the pitch too, making a vital tackle on the edge of our area to take the ball away from the dangerous Taxiarchis Fountas.
Chances were few and far between, but just before the interval the visitors came close as Ercan Kara received the ball in the area and flashed a shot across the face of goal.
The hosts continued to threaten after the restart, as Fountas and then Dejan Ljubicic blasted over in quick succession – and then they took the lead as the former took advantage of a poor pass out from the back to put the Austrians in front.
We started to pile on the pressure with Aubameyang and Hector Bellerin on to give us some impetus, and with 20 minutes remaining we had an equaliser as David Luiz headed home Nicolas Pepe’s free kick.
But moments later Vienna nearly retook the lead when a defensive mix-up between Bernd Leno and David Luiz presented the ball to Fountas 35 yards out, but the striker fired over.
We responded well though, and less than 6- seconds later Mo Elneny found Bellerin in behind the Rapid backline, and he picked out Aubameyang to put us in front.
That proved to be enough, as we kicked off our latest European campaign with a win on the road.
HOW IT HAPPENED
WHAT IT MEANS
We’re back in north London on Sunday evening, as Leicester City visit Emirates Stadium.
The last time we faced the Foxes, Aubameyang gave us the lead before a late Jamie Vardy equaliser pegged us back.
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