Arsenal young guns fire after bizarre double helping hand

Arsenal took a commanding grasp on control of Group B of the Europa League after securing a 4-1 victory over a luckless Molde at The Emirates.

A much changed and youthful Gunners side set the tone early when a lightning fast counter almost produced the game’s opener inside five minutes.

Eddie Nketiah latched onto Nicolas Pepe’s incisive final pass, but the striker’s dinked effort was drifting narrowly wide before the retreating Martin Bjornbak hacked clear to remove all doubt.

Hopes of Mikel Arteta’s side generating early rhythm were consistently hampered in bizarre circumstances, however.

Referee Halil Meler had to frequently pause the game to fix his malfunctioning equipment, much to the bemusement of the players and commentators alike.

The stop-start affair appeared to be doing the home side no favours, and so it proved when Molde made the breakthrough in stunning fashion.

Bernd Leno’s errant goal-kick handed the Norwegian side possession, and within two passes a shooting opportunity had been crafted.

Martin Ellingsen had a lot left to do from fully 25 yards, but do it well he did by bending a low strike inside the far post past the diving Leno to make it 1-0.

Arsenal stepped up the tempo in search of an equaliser but it wasn’t until the stroke of half-time in which they came close to bringing parity back to the scores.

Pepe’s quick feet fashioned a crossing opportunity, and he duly found the willing Nketiah unmarked in the box. The Englishman prodded home, but the flag was raised for offside with Joe Willock nearby seemingly the one penalised for the infringement.

Arsenal were handed a major boost in added time after a rapid break from a Molde corner resulted in a bizarre own goal.

Granit Xhaka and Nketiah were heavily involved, with the latter’s final pass proving too difficult to deal with for the retreating Kristoffer Haugen who comically bundled the ball into his own net.

Mikel Arteta’s side emerged from the break seeking to capitalise on their fortune, but missed a glorious opportunity to take the lead through Saed Kolasinac.

A parried cross found its way to the Bosnian from barely three yards out, but his snatched effort blazed over the bar to the bemusement of both he and his manager.

The strange happenings continued to occur with remarkable frequency when Arsenal took the lead through a second Molde own goal.

Willock attempted a cut-back to any of three Arsenal players queuing up at the far post, but Sheriff Sinyan prevented a regulation goal by clumsily kneeing the ball into his own goal to put Arsenal ahead.

That hammerblow appeared to sap the fight from Molde, with Arsenal sensing blood from their disheartened opponents.

Superb work down the left from substitute Bukayo Saka then presented a chance for the impressive Pepe to shine.

The Ivorian didn’t disappoint, and duly swept home a lovely left-footed strike to increase their lead to 3-1.

Chances continued to be spurned by both sides as the match drew to a close, but there was just enough time for man of the match Willock to register his name on the scoresheet late on as Arsenal rounded out 4-1 victors.

 

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