Some Brazilian magic sent us back to the top of our Champions League group at the halfway stage as Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus struck to beat Sevilla.
Martinelli raced 50 yards to score the opener in the final seconds of first-half stoppage-time, and on 53 minutes Jesus netted for the third straight Champions League game in spectacular style to put us in command.
Nemanja Gudelj headed Sevilla back into the game soon after, but we held firm to get the victory.
Martinelli makes the difference
The players emerged to a cacophony of noise inside the Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan as the home crowd tried to gain an early advantage, but we would have the best chance of the opening 15 minutes.
Gabriel Jesus burst forward and played in Martinelli who went one-on-one with Orjan Nyland in the Sevilla goal, but saw his attempt stopped by the foot of the shot-stopper with the ball unfortunately ricocheting off our man and out.
Ironically as the rain came down, the chances dried up as the half went on, but the next best two went to the reigning Europa League holders. Lucas Ocampos prodded wide after making a good run, and as the half entered stoppage time, Youssef En-Nesyri dragged an effort just past David Raya’s far post in what was the home side’s best move of the half.
That looked to be that for the first half, until our trio of Brazilians sprang Sevilla with a surprise in its final seconds. While the Spanish side were probing in our box, Gabriel cleared to Gabriel Jesus who skillfully trapped the ball, and then bettered that with a Cruyff turn that dazzled both Gudelj and Boubakary Soumare.
That allowed him to feed Martinelli who had a whole half of empty pitch to run into, and he calmly used it all to advance around Nyland and slot into the net to hand us a half-time lead.
Goals at either end
That moment sent the players buzzing into the break, and they were clearly still buoyant come the restart as a dominant eight-minute spell after the restart was capitalised on in the form of a second goal.
Jesus’ genius was on show again as he got the goal his performance merited. Declan Rice strode forward and found the forward near the corner flag, but he tricked his way inside past Jesus Navas and unleashed a fierce strike into the top corner to double our lead, and become the first Gunner to score in his first three Champions League games for the club since Marouane Chamakh in 2010.
However the two-goal was swiftly wiped out just six minutes later when Sevilla won a corner which was fizzed in by Ivan Rakitic, and Gudelj sent it past Raya with his header to reignite the hosts’ hopes.
It was crucial we saw out the next period of the game to quieten the crowd, and we managed that by restricting Sevilla to just a couple of acrobatic attempts from Lucas Ocampos and Mariano Díaz as the game entered the final few minutes.
As they ticked by, Raya made a comfortable save from an En-Nesyri header and Diaz flashed a header wide of the target as Diego Alonso threw everyone forward in search of an equaliser, but we held firm to clinch a big three points in the context of the group.
Facts and stats
This was our 14th away game against Spanish sides in the Champions League, but just the second time we'd scored more than once, after a 3-2 win against Celta de Vigo in the 2003/04 round of 16.
Gabriel Jesus assisting Gabriel Martinelli for the opener was the first time two Brazilian players have combined for a Champions League goal for us.
With 14 goals and four assists, Jesus has been involved in 18 goals in his last 17 starts in the Champions League. He’s also just the second player to score in his first three appearances for us in the competition, after Marouane Chamakh in 2010.
This was the 30th match in which Martinelli has scored for us in all competitions, and we have remained undefeated when he’s found the net (W25 D5).
We have lost just one of our last 11 group stage games in the Champions League (W8 D2), finding the net at least once in their last 20 such matches in the competition.
We host Sheffield United at home on Saturday as we aim to stretch our unbeaten start to the Premier League season into double figures, before attentions turn to the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, November 1 when we take on West Ham United in the fourth round at the London Stadium.
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