Belfast Telegraph

Emery thrilled to see mix of young and old shine

Eintracht 0 Arsenal 3

Final say: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after his goal
Final say: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after his goal

By Mark Bryans

Arsenal academy graduates Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka shone as the Gunners began their Europa League campaign with an impressive victory at 10-man Eintracht Frankfurt.

In what should prove to be their most difficult assignment in Group F, Unai Emery made seven alterations from the weekend's disappointing draw at Watford and saw his team run out comfortable 3-0 winners.

Willock and Saka, as well as Emile Smith-Rowe, were the youngsters given a chance to impress and the former opened the scoring in the first half.

Saka doubled the advantage with a fine finish before laying on a late third for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with both second-half goals coming after Frankfurt midfielder Dominik Kohr had been sent off.

"We know that match was difficult. They were very strong," said Emery. "They're a very offensive team and defensively we needed to work, sometimes deep, sometimes with their full-backs deep, crossing to the strikers.

"We spoke and worked the transition, if we were organised defensively and with good pressing against them.

"We did that. We had the possibility with the young players to create chances and help them, also sharing with experienced players. Their performance tonight was good. It's our way."

After wasting several first-half opportunities, Emery's side eventually broke the deadlock seven minutes before half-time as Saka freed Willock and he twisted inside before seeing his shot take a wicked deflection off David Abraham, loop up over Kevin Trapp and bounce in off the crossbar.

Emiliano Martinez ensured Arsenal would go in at the break in front as he made a decent stop to keep out Andre Silva.

Bas Dost headed tamely wide early after the restart. Silva then also missed the target.

Granit Xhaka then came within inches of scoring a fortuitous second as his intended cross from a free-kick wrong-footed Trapp and hit the crossbar.

Trapp made further saves to deny Willock and Saka, before the latter was clipped by Kohr, who was shown a second yellow.

Aubameyang then missed an absolute sitter to wrap up the win but would make amends by slotting home the third after Saka's fine bending strike had already secured the points.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph