Sydney FC 0-2 Arsenal: Alexandre Lacazette scores on debut in pre-season win
By Kate Burlaga
Last Updated: 13/07/17 3:48pm
Alexandre Lacazette scored on his debut as Arsenal kicked off their pre-season schedule with a 2-0 win over Sydney FC in Australia.
The club's record signing from Lyon made his hotly-anticipated first appearance midway through the second half in front of more than 80,000 and took just 15 minutes to strike, making a late dart into the box before sweeping home Alex Iwobi's cut-back (83).
Per Mertesacker's fourth-minute opener had been scant reward for an unsurprisingly dominant display as Danny Welbeck missed a penalty and Sydney goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne pulled off a string of smart stops.
But Arsene Wenger will be buoyed by the quick impact of his new No 9, as well as the performances of youngsters Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Cohen Bramall, who all made their senior debuts before the Frenchman shuffled his pack.
Lacazette had started on the bench with the likes of Olivier Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but another summer signing, Sead Kolasinac, was named on the left of a three-man defence and showed a penchant for a forward charge as well as an eye for an interception.
Theo Walcott swung at goal with just a minute on the clock but the breakthrough came soon after from an unlikelier source, Mertesacker reacting instinctively from a corner as he hooked over his shoulder and into the bottom corner.
Nelson, with quick feet and close control, shone in the opening half but Welbeck failed to connect with some good deliveries from the byline and took a ball off his toe after the youngster had crafted space in the box under pressure.
The hosts had barely been over the halfway line but were suddenly bearing down on goal shortly before the break, Joshua Brillante shrugging off Mertesacker before sending a ball across goal that a lunging Matt Simon could only lash against the outside of the post.
Goalkeeper Emi Martinez was Arsenal's sole half-time change but their youngsters were quickly back in the groove, Nelson finding the lively Bramall at the back post, only for Redmayne to push away his swerving effort with an outside of the boot.
Moments later, the visitors had a chance from the penalty spot but replays showed the ball had hit Sebastian Ryall on the back, not the hand, and Sydney's appeals were vindicated when Welbeck (56) saw his low effort parried to safety.
Arsenal's tempo dropped until Wenger rang the changes and after a series of smart touches outside the box - from a weighted pass to a clever stepover - Lacazette applied a key one in it, barely breaking stride as he slotted simply past Redmayne to seal the warm-up win.
Man of the match - Reiss Nelson
Alexandre Lacazette will hog the headlines - his touch, vision and industry to win the ball back caught the eye as well as his predatory finish - while Mesut Ozil pinged passes for fun, albeit against modest opposition.
But 17-year-old Reiss Nelson starred - especially in the opening 45 minutes - at the ANZ Stadium, his pace, movement and dribbling from right wing-back making him a chief threat on his senior debut.
Arsenal are back at the ANZ Stadium on Saturday for a clash with another local side, Western Sydney Wanderers (11am), before heading on to China for an International Champions Cup clash with Bayern Munich on July 19 and Premier League rivals Chelsea on July 22.