Arsenal ended their Europa League group campaign with a comfortable 1-0 victory over Qarabag thanks to Alexandre Lacazette's goal.

By 90Min
December 13, 2018

Arsenal ended their Europa League group campaign with a comfortable 1-0 victory over Qarabag thanks to Alexandre Lacazette's goal, extending their unbeaten run to 22 matches in all competitions.

In front of a sparse crowd of just over 21,000 at the Emirates, the already qualified Gunners were largely untroubled against their opponents, who bowed out of the competition having lost five of their six fixtures.

After a lackluster first quarter of an hour, surprise choice Lacazette latched onto a Mesut Ozil pass, before dispatching a powerful low drive past goalkeeper the helpless Vagna Da Silva. 

From there it was almost a formality for Unai Emery's side, in what at times could have been mistaken for a training session. In a game of few clear-cut chances, Lacazette's early goal was symptomatic of the Frenchman's finishing nous that saw him net his eighth of the campaign.

It took until midway through the second half for Emery's outfit to threaten with purpose, with 17-year-old Bukayo Saka inches away from making history as Arsenal's youngest ever European goalscorer. 

Moments after, the Gunners thought they'd double their lead through Eddie Nketiah - only for his effort to be ruled off for offside. 


ARSENAL

Key Talking Point

Given the permutations beforehand and quality of opposition, the match didn't teach us anything new regarding Arsenal's youngsters, who couldn't have envisaged a more straightforward victory. 

Instead, much of the focus was on Laurent Koscielny's much anticipated comeback after a cruel seven month injury layoff.

Assured in the heart of the Gunners defense, the Frenchman and his teammates were rarely troubled against a beleaguered outfit, who were brushed aside 6-1 by Sporting on matchday 5. 

While rare Qarabag attacks were largely thwarted by the impressive Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Koscielny would have been relieved to have come through unscathed - eventually replaced by Matteo Guendouzi.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Martinez (6) Jenkinson (6), Sokratis (6), Koscielny (6) Maitland-Niles (8*), Elneny (6), Willock (6), Saka (6), Ozil (6), Lacazette (7), Nketiah (7).

Substitutes: Medley (5), Monreal (5), Gilmour (5), Guendouzi (6).


STAR MAN - Much of Arsenal's attacking play came through versatile winger Maitland-Niles, who shone once more on his fourth Europa League start.

Despite a quiet opening, he was moved to the right-wing where the 21-year-old grew into the game and caused defender Wilde-Donald Guerrier several problems in the second-half. 

Displaying an abundance of energy, pace and enthusiasm, Maitland-Niles was his side's shining light in an otherwise average team performance.

Fellow youngster Nketiah certainly ran Maitland-Niles close, who would have been disappointed to see his goal disallowed.


WORST PLAYER - Like several out-of-favor players, Carl Jenkinson's performance wouldn't have staked a place in the first team in the near future. 

Despite finding himself in forward areas on occasion, the former West Ham defender looked nervous and perhaps hesitant to make mistakes. That said, he was largely untroubled at the other end.


QARABAG

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Da Silva (6), Medvedev (7), Rzezniczak, Sadiqov (5), Guerrier (5), Slavchev (6), Qarayev (5), Madera (5), Madatov (5), Zoubir (6).

Substitutes: Abdullayev (5), Sosa (5), Ozobic (5).


Looking Ahead

Arsenal return to Premier League action when they face lowly Southampton on Sunday, followed by a mouthwatering north London derby clash with Tottenham in the quarterfinals of the Carabao Cup.

Having sealed their place in the last 32, the Gunners await their fate in Monday's Europa League draw.

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