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Arsenal v Rapid Wien Match Report, 03/12/2020, UEFA Europa League

Arsenal 4-1 Rapid Vienna: Lacazette rediscovers goalscoring touch

Arsenal secured top spot in Europa League Group B as Alexandre Lacazette scored a stunning goal in a 4-1 win over Rapid Vienna.

Alexandre Lacazette ended his goalscoring drought as Arsenal eased to a 4-1 victory over Rapid Vienna to secure top spot in Europa League Group B.

Lacazette had gone eight matches without a goal before he put the Gunners ahead in the 10th minute on Thursday with a stunning long-range strike.

Pablo Mari headed in the second from a corner before Eddie Nketiah finished off a stylish team goal a minute before half-time.

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Arsenal, who had already qualified for the competition’s last 32, conceded when Koya Kitagawa fired home early in the second half but Emile Smith Rowe added a fourth to stifle any hopes of a comeback.

Mikel Arteta made 11 changes from the side that lost 2-1 at home to Wolves in the Premier League last weekend and those involved made a high-tempo start.

Rapid carelessly lost possession from a throw-in and the ball bounced kindly for Lacazette, who struck a spectacular swerving effort beyond goalkeeper Richard Strebinger.

The Gunners gave the 2,000 fans permitted inside Emirates Stadium another goal to cheer after Reiss Nelson’s corner was glanced into the net by the head of Mari.

Nelson cut the ball back for Lacazette, who was operating in a slightly deeper role, just before the half hour but this time he sent his effort against the post.

Arsenal left the Austrian side with a mountain to climb just before the interval when a slick passing move saw Nketiah nod the ball home after Strebinger parried his initial shot.

Rapid pulled a goal back two minutes after the break when the ball pinged around the area before it dropped to Kitagawa and he found home through a crowded box.

But Arsenal regained their composure and Maitland-Niles capitalised on another Rapid mistake to tee up substitute Smith Rowe to seal the win.

What does it mean? Gunners flawless in Europe

Arsenal made it five wins from as many Group B matches as Arteta got some respite from their inconsistent displays in the Premier League.

It was only the second time the Gunners have achieved the feat in Europe, having done so during the 2005-06 Champions League in which they reached the final.

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That bodes well for the Arsenal manager in continental competition, but Arteta will desperately hope they can transfer it to the Premier League.

Nice guy Eddie cool in the box

All 16 of Nketiah’s goals in his senior club career have been scored from inside the box (11 for Arsenal and five for Leeds United) as he underlined his penalty area prowess by being in the right place at the right time against Rapid.

With Arsenal having scored just one goal from their past 64 shots from open play in the Premier League, this was a timely reminder to Arteta of his predatory instincts.

Rusty Elneny unable to make an impact

It was a subdued display by midfielder Mohamed Elneny on his first start since the beginning of November for the Gunners and he was substituted in the 63rd minute.

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The Egyptian drifted through the game as his lack of sharpness following a recent period out with coronavirus showed.

Key Opta Facts

– Lacazette scored his first goal for Arsenal in 488 minutes in all competitions.
– Rapid have lost four of their five away games against English sides in Europe (W1), shipping a total of 13 goals in those fixtures.
– Arsenal have scored at least three goals in four consecutive European games for the first time since March 2000, on their way to the UEFA Cup final that season.
– Lacazette is just the eighth player to hit 20 goals in the Europa League, with his opener only his third in the competition to come from outside the box.

What’s next?

Arsenal are back in Premier League action on Sunday when they head to rivals Tottenham for the north London derby, while Rapid host Hartberg in the Austrian Bundesliga on the same day.

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