Goals from Marquinhos and Eddie Nketiah ensured we began our Europa League campaign with a win as we beat FC Zurich 2-1 in St Gallen.
The Brazilian took just 16 minutes of his debut to net his first goal for us when he connected with an Nketiah cross, and the roles were reversed in the second half when the striker dispatched an excellent delivery to restore the lead following Mirlind Kryeziu’s penalty just before half-time.
At half-time, the news broke of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and our players returned to the field wearing black armbands in respect, while a minute’s silence was held before play resumed.
Marquinhos off the mark
Despite not playing at their own ground, Zurich’s fans were loud and created a great atmosphere, and they were fractions away from celebrating the opening goal of the game on six minutes when miscommunication between Gabriel and Matt Turner allowed Aiyegun Tosin to nip in and strike the post from a tight angle.
However, that honour would go to our travelling supporters 10 minutes later. Having seen a couple of good chances for Gabriel Martinelli go begging, a swift counter-attack started when Fabio Vieira released Nketiah, and his pace allowed him to get into a great position to centre for Marquinhos to coolly stick the ball past Yanick Brecher.
We would dominate the first half and further chances came our way when Vieira lobbed Brecher but also the bar, before Granit Xhaka forced the keeper into a good stop with a low drive, however two minutes before the break, the hosts were handed a golden chance to level things up.
In at the break level
With the ball pinging around the box, Nketiah was adjudged to have brought down Fidan Aliti, and Mohammed Al-Hakim awarded Zurich a penalty, which Kryeziu dispatched by sending Turner the wrong way.
Once the second half resumed, we continued to be the more dominant side in terms of possession and chances, and carved out some decent early opportunities.
Nketiah nearly saw a curling effort find the top corner but was just off target, an excellent Xhaka through-ball allowed Tierney to shoot straight at Brecher and then a mazy dribble by our No. 14 saw him beat a few defenders but not the goalkeeper - all within 10 minutes of the restart.
Eddie wins it
And that pressure told when we got back in front on 62 minutes. Marquinhos capped an excellent debut by whipping a great cross to the back post for Nketiah, and the striker did brilliantly to head low into the ground and beat Brecher in front of our travelling fans to net his first goal of the campaign.
The win could have been more emphatic when substitute Gabriel Jesus was picked out in the box by Martinelli following another good break but again Brecher was equal to his driven shot, and Turner had to be alert to save a stoppage-time header from Ivan Santini to ensure we returned to London with the three points.
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