Europa League: Arsenal cruise past Dundalk in comfortable win
Europa League Group B, Emirates Stadium - Arsenal 3 (Nketiah 42', Willock 44', Pepe 46') Dundalk 0
Arsenal's English striker Eddie Nketiah celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League 1st round day 2 Group B football match between Arsenal and Dundalk at the Emirates Stadium
They started slowly, but Arsenal's second-string side comfortably ran out 3-0 victors over Irish outfit Dundalk in the Europa League tie at the Emirates.
Playing just Granit Xhaka from the starting eleven who lost to Leicester on Sunday, the Gunners struggled to break the deadlock until Eddie Nketiah stabbed home after Gary Rogers missed his punch from a corner.
Just over two minutes later the lead was doubled when with the Dundalk defenders in panic mode, the ball fell for Joseph Willock on the left hand side of the box and he took the ball down deftly before lifting the ball into the roof of the net.
Talking point – If only they’d held out a few more minutes
The difference in ability between the sides probably would have meant Arsenal scoring in the second half and winning comfortably, but it would have been nice to see them have to prove it in the second half.
Dundalk defended so stoutly in the first half and in truth were not particularly troubled until the final five minutes.
Gary Rogers has a wealth of experience in European competition and cannot have made many worse errors than completely missing a punch to allow Nketiah to score.
After this came two goals within the next four minutes of play on the field and the result was not in doubt.
We might have found out a bit more about the character of some of the Arsenal players if the score stayed goalless into the second half.
Man of the match: Joseph Willock
At 21, it is time Willock showed his talent regularly in the Premier League but after being a regular substitute last season he has not played a league match in this campaign.
It is hard to make any conclusions from performing against this opposition but Willock was clearly the best performer on the park for the Gunners.
He has skill and pace in abundance, like the fellow forwards in the Arsenal side, but his judgment of when to set up team-mates and his execution in doing so in this match, suggest he can be a creative hub for a good Premier League side.
If it is to be at the Emirates, it probably has to happen this year.
Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal warm up prior to the UEFA Europa League Group B stage match between Arsenal FC and Dundalk FC at Emirates Stadium
Image credit: Getty Images
39’ What a chance for Nketiah. The corner falls to Pepe on the edge of the area all on his own and his effort is deflected off a defender for the young striker but it comes off his shin and wide of the target. The closest we've come so far.
42’ GOAL! And what an awful way for Dundalk to concede. Rogers misses a corner that looked straightforward to punch out and Nketiah beats Gartland to the ball three yards out and flashes it home.
44’ GOAL! The scoreline could be anything now you feel. The Dundalk defenders all at sea. Three defenders go to close down Pepe and Willock all on his own on the left side of the box takes the ball down brilliantly and then lifts it over Rogers and into the roof of the net.
46’ GOAL! And what a goal. Pepe with his wrong foot hits a delightful dink from the edge of the box into the top right hand corner. Willocks squared the ball across the 18-yard box and there didn't seem a great deal of danger but a slight roll away from the defender and then a superb effort gave Rogers no chance.