Europa League reports & highlights: Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka shines as Gunners win in Frankfurt, while Celtic draw at Rennes

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka celebrate for Arsenal
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka celebrate for Arsenal

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 their attempts to qualify from Group F, head coach 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 Smile Rowe, were the youngsters given a chance to impress and the former opened the scoring in the first half.

Saka would then double 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.

Frankfurt sold attacking trio Luka Jovic, Ante Rebic and Sebastien Haller over the summer, and their finishing let them down badly, especially in a lively first half as Djibril Sow arrowed a shot straight at Emiliano Martinez, making his first Arsenal appearance since December, as the hosts started positively.

Aubameyang angled a shot away from Kevin Trapp's goal before Martinez was forced into a smart, low save to deny Filip Kostic from a similar position to his earlier chance.

After wasting their own 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 Trapp and bounce in off the crossbar.

Martinez ensured Arsenal would go in at the break in front as he made another decent stop to keep out Andre Silva on the stroke of half-time.

Second half

Silva - also a new attacking recruit - then missed the target as the task of filling the collective 56-goal void left by the departures of Jovic, Haller and Rebic was clear for all to see.

In keeping with the opening 45 minutes, Arsenal would almost immediately create a chance of their own, Martin Hinteregger sliding in to block Aubameyang's strike after he was found by Willock.

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 card by referee Davide Massa with 11 minutes remaining.

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.

Eintracht Frankfurt 0-3 Arsenal Opta stats

  • Arsenal have only lost one of their 13 group stage games in the Europa League (W10 D2), while this was their sixth consecutive clean sheet in the group stage of the competition.
  • Arsenal picked up their first European away win against German opposition since November 2013 (1-0 v Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League), having failed to win on any of their previous five trips (D1 L4).
  • Eintracht Frankfurt suffered their heaviest ever home defeat across European competitions – In what was their 74th such game on home soil.
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has netted seven goals in his last seven Europa League appearances for Arsenal, with four of those coming away from home.
  • Bukayo Saka is the youngest player to score for Arsenal in the Europa League/Champions League since October 2008, when Aaron Ramsey (17y 300d) netted against Fenerbahçe.

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