Europa League: Arsenal boss Emery disappointed despite 4-2 win over Vorskla
Gunners, Chelsea and Celtic win their opening group stage matches
Arsenal 4 Vorskla Poltava 2
Arsenal manager Unai Emery said he was “disappointed” with his side’s second-half performance after the Gunners conceded two late goals to Ukrainian outfit Vorskla Poltava in their opening Europa League clash but still ran out 4-2 winners.
Having cantered to a four-goal lead thanks to two from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and goals from Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil, Arsenal relaxed in the final quarter, allowing the visitors to score twice.
Foot off the gas
The final scoreline was perhaps an accurate reflection of a match in which Arsenal at times struggled to stamp their authority on Vorskla. Only when Aubameyang broke the deadlock on 32 minutes with Arsenal’s first shot on target did the Gunners start to gain in confidence and although three more goals followed, a 4-0 result would have been harsh for the Ukrainians.
“When you are 4-0 up you want to continue to be competitive and to score more goals, not concede,” said Emery. “For us it is very important to start this competition with this victory. We are happy but it is clear that we need to continue to improve in things.”
Emery made eight changes to the side that beat Newcastle United in the Premier League at the weekend, which meant starts for midfielder Lucas Torreira, defender Stephan Lichtsteiner and goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
“We are giving chances to many players to find the pieces and for the confidence,” explained the Arsenal head coach. “We need to because we are going to play a lot of matches. We need players and we need to give minutes to players. A victory in these situations is the best thing for us.”
In the group’s other game, Sporting Lisbon beat Azerbaijani side FK Qarabag 2-0.
PAOK Salonika 0 Chelsea 1
There was a win on the road for Chelsea, who began their Europa League campaign with a 1-0 victory at PAOK Salonika.
Willian scored the only goal of the game after latching on to Ross Barkley’s lay-off and the sell-out crowd in Thessaloniki had little to cheer in a dour game.
Nonetheless it was a satisfactory outcome for Chelsea in their first Europa League game since winning the competition in 2013. It puts them level at the top of group L with BATE Borisov of Belarus, who won 2-0 away at Hungarian side Vidi.
“We were in control of the match for 90 minutes,” said Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri. “We have had a lot of opportunities. We missed several. So I am really very happy with the three points, very happy with the performance, but I am not very happy with the result.
“When it is time to kill the match we have to kill the match.”
Celtic 1 Rosenborg 0
Celtic’s miserable European run came to an end when Leigh Griffiths headed home with three minutes remaining against Rosenborg in their Europa League group B fixture.
It was the Scottish champions’ first European group stage win in 11 games, since they beat Astra of Romania in 2014.
Villarreal 2 Rangers 2
Rangers showed great heart to twice come from behind to draw 2-2 away at Villarreal. “It is a fantastic result,” said boss Steven Gerrard. “The second-half performance was very strong and we are a good team when we show it, when we believe, and we can create chances against anyone.”
When are the next group matches?
- 4 October: group stage, matchday two
- 25 October: group stage, matchday three
- 8 November: group stage, matchday four
- 29 November: group stage, matchday five
- 13 December: group stage, matchday six