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Qarabag FK vs Arsenal. Europa League Group E.

Baku National StadiumAttendance63,412.

Qarabag FK 0

    Arsenal 3

    • S Papastathopoulos (4th minute)
    • E Smith-Rowe (53rd minute)
    • M Guendouzi (79th minute)

    Qarabag FK 0-3 Arsenal: Trio score first goals as Gunners cruise in Azerbaijan

    Emile Smith Rowe doubled Arsenal's advantage
    Image: Emile Smith Rowe doubled Arsenal's advantage with his first senior goal

    Three maiden goalscorers helped Arsenal maintain their 100 per cent start in the Europa League with a 3-0 victory over Qarabag in Azerbaijan on Thursday.

    Sokratis Papastathopoulos' got the Gunners off and running inside four minutes when he deflected a Nacho Monreal header beyond the wrong-footed Vagner in the Qarabag goal.

    Eighteen-year-old Emile Smith Rowe marked his second Arsenal start with his first senior goal on 52 minutes, before Matteo Guendouzi wrapped up the victory with his first goal for the club 11 minutes from time.

    Arsenal did not have everything their own way in Baku, though, with goalkeeper Bernd Leno called into three decent saves throughout the game.

    But an eighth straight win in all competitions sees the Gunners cement top spot in Group E.

    Player ratings

    Qarabag FK: Vagner (5), Medvedev (6), Huseynov (5), Rzezniczak (5), Agolli (5), Madatov (6), Michel (5), Garayev (5), Zoubir (7), Ozobic (5), Emeghara (6).

    Subs: Slavchev (4), Abdullayev (4), Delarge (5).

    Arsenal: Leno (8), Holding (6), Sokratis (7), Monreal (6), Elneny (6), Guendouzi (5), Kolasinac (6), Smith Rowe (7), Iwobi (8), Welbeck (6).

    Subs: Torreira (6), Ozil (5), Lacazette (5).

    Man of the Match: Alex Iwobi.

    Arsenal made the dream start in Baku with just four minutes on the clock. Captain Monreal rose high to meet a Mohamed Elneny corner and his goal-bound header was deflected in off Sokratis - his first goal since joining the club this summer.

    Smith Rowe, making his first start in the Europa League, should have doubled the Gunners' lead on 18 minutes but he could not stretch enough to convert Sead Kolasinac's cross.

    Also See:

    Arsenal celebrate Sokratis' early opener
    Image: Arsenal celebrate Sokratis' early opener

    The chances kept on coming for Arsenal as Danny Welbeck glanced a free header wide from another Elneny corner three minutes later, but the Gunners' reluctance to put the game to bed invited pressure from Qarabag.

    Mahir Madatov drew Leno into action for the first time with a near-post drive shortly before the half-hour, and the German was called upon on 39 minutes, this time to parry Filip Ozobic's powerful shot through bodies.

    Team news

    Rob Holding and Nacho Monreal were the only Arsenal players to retain their places from Saturday’s win over Watford as Unai Emery made nine changes. Sead Kolasinac made his first appearance since that final game of last season while Emile Smith Rowe was handed his first Europa League start.

    Qarabag captain Maksim Medvedev lashed an effort into the side-netting as the hosts ended the half strongly, and they had the ball in the back of the net within four minutes of the restart when Madatov slotted the ball under Leno, but the offside flag came to Arsenal's rescue.

    Three minutes later and Arsenal were two to the good as Alex Iwobi released Smith Rowe and the youngster showed great composure to slot his first Arsenal goal through the legs of Vagner.

    Matteo Guendouzi made it 3-0 to Arsenal
    Image: Matteo Guendouzi made it 3-0 to Arsenal

    Qarabag pushed for a route back into the game but suffered from a lack of quality in the final third. But any hopes of a comeback were extinguished when Guendouzi picked out to bottom left-hand corner at the end of an Alexandre Lacazette-led counter on 79 minutes.

    There was still time for Leno to produce another fine save, this time to tip Zoubir's rasping drive over the bar, as Arsenal secured a clean sheet with their second win in Europe this season.

    Opta stats

    • Arsenal have won eight consecutive games in all competitions for the first time since April 2015 (nine games in that run).
    • FK Qarabag have lost each of their last four games in the Europa League, their worst ever run in the competition.
    • 20 different players have scored for Arsenal in the Europa League since the start of last season (excl. own-goals), nine more than any other team.
    • Sokratis became the first player to score a goal for Arsenal in any competition who never played a competitive game under former boss Arsene Wenger since Glenn Helder in January 1996.
    • Nacho Monreal has registered two assists in his last three games in all competitions for Arsenal, as many as he managed in his previous 61.
    • Emile Smith-Rowe (18y 67d) is the youngest player to score for Arsenal in a competitive game since Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain against Olympiakos in September 2011 (18y 43d). Blossom.
    • With Sokratis, Smith-Rowe and Matteo Guendouzi all getting on the scoresheet for Arsenal, all three scorers netted their first competitive goals for the club in the game.

    The manager

    BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - OCTOBER 04: of Arsenal during the UEFA Europa League Group E match between Qarabag FK and Arsenal at  on April 10, 2018 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

    Unai Emery: "I'm very happy because the opposition was at a good level and with their support, they demanded a lot of us over 90 minutes in the defensive moments. For moments, we lost our position in possession but it's good because the team learned to suffer when we needed to. The victory is good for our confidence, for our mentality, and it helps us grind out results in difficult matches, to keep our idea to continue to push."

    What's next?

    Arsenal return to Premier League action at midday on Sunday when they face newly-promoted Fulham at Craven Cottage.

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