Report: Arsenal 4-1 Molde

Arsenal needed two own goals to come from behind and beat Molde to continue their perfect record in the Europa League.

Both sides had won their opening two games before their clash at the Emirates and the Norwegian outfit threatened to end Arsenal’s streak with a shock opener from Martin Ellingsen. 

The Gunners had the majority of possession but needed the intervention of Kristoffer Haugen, who put the ball in his own net on the stroke of half time, to level proceedings.

Half-time substitute Sheriff Sinyan gave the hosts the lead when he diverted a Joe Willock cross into his own net before Nico Pépé and Willock sealed the victory. 

After beating Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s Manchester United on Sunday Mikel Arteta made nine changes for the visit of his former side Molde with goalkeeper Bernd Leno and attacker Willian keeping their places. 

Willock, who starred in last week’s victory over Dundalk, came into the side but Reiss Nelson was absent due to injury.

Molde made a confident start but Eddie Nketiah had sight of goal twice in the opening five minutes. A searching cross from Willock just evaded the striker before a deft touch from goalkeeper Andreas Linde denied the Englishman after Pépé had played him in. 

Despite the experience and talent of Willian and Pépé on the wings, the deliveries into the box were either over-hit or too easy for Linde and the Molde defence were relatively untroubled. 

Arteta prefers to see his side play it out from the back rather than hit a long ball so he would not have been pleased when a long-range kick from Leno was won by Molde and played to Ellingsen, a part-time electrician – who managed to shock Leno with a curling effort from the edge of the box. 

Arsenal saw plenty of the ball but it wasn’t until the 43rd minute that they managed to penetrate the visiting backline when Pépé found just enough space to fire a low ball across the face of goal that Nketiah prodded home, but the offside flag wrongly cancelled out the goal. Willock was in an offside position but the striker was not. 

However, the Gunners did get their equaliser before the break. Granit Xhaka, playing as a centre back, led a counter from a Molde corner and played Nketiah into space. The striker’s first-time ball was aimed for Willock but Haugen’s momentum saw him get to the ball first and divert it beyond his goalkeeper.

There was a change of tactic after the restart for Molde as they pressed high and aggressive forcing Arsenal to go long and then won the aerial duels. However, that left space when Arsenal did find a way through with Sead Kolašinac benefiting in particular although he couldn’t find a red shirt with his deliveries. 

The Bosnian should have put Arsenal ahead when Linde parried an Ainsley Maitland-Niles cross right into his path but the defender blazed his effort over the bar. Willock ensured he wouldn’t rue that miss when he collected Xhaka’s return pass and lifted the ball past Linde. Sinyan stuck out a leg to block the shot but ended up helping it on its way in.

That goal was met by two substitutions as Cédric Soares and Bukayo Saka were introduced and the latter helped put the game beyond Molde. Nketiah sent him racing into the box and he had the time and intelligence to pick out Pépé in the box to smash home a third. 

Saka almost got on the scoresheet himself when a Cédric piledriver deflected into his path but he could only find the post before Nketiah was flagged offside when he hammered in the rebound. 

Mo Elneny and Kieran Tierney came on help see out the win and Willock ensured they bagged all three points with a late fourth to continue his recent form. 

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