Martinelli double sets Arsenal on course for Euro stroll over Standard Liege
Arsenal 4 Standard Liege 0
Two goals in two minutes from Gabriel Martinelli put the Gunners in easy street as they cruised to another three points in the Europa League.
The 18-year-old Brazilian, who scored twice against Nottingham Forest on his debut in the League Cup, bagged his double with the game barely 15 minutes old and relished the responsibility of spearheading the attack in place of a rested Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
First, on 13 minutes, he was perfectly placed to glance home a perfect cross from Kieran Tierney towards the edge of the six yard box – his bullet near-post header flying past keeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic.
Just 131 second later, he was given too much time inside the box to turn and work the ball onto his right foot for a shot inside the far corner.
Joe Willock, a relative veteran at 20, then got in on the act, making it 3-0 on 22 minutes, as abject defending – and a kind ricochet following a blocked shot from Reiss Nelson – offered up an open target.
The fact that he had already gone close with a volley over the bar summed up the one-sided nature of the contest.
“Are you Tottenham in disguise?” the home fans crowed, perhaps wondering whether their team might yet score the same number of goals that Spurs shipped against Bayern two days earlier.
After all, the Gunners did put seven past Liege – back in the 1993-94 Uefa Cup.
The Belgians, third in their league last season, were backed in big numbers by travelling fans, who continued to party. But they will have known that the game was already up.
After the break, Martinelli was keen to chase down a hat-trick and curled just over from outside the box before just failing to get on the end of Willock’s low cross into the six-yard box.
He might also have got the treble with a chip from a tight angle, but Dani Ceballos applied the finishing touch from a yard to make it four after 58 minutes, with his first goal for the club.
Boss Unai Emery will be pleased with what he saw. He gave plenty of the usual starting XI players the night off and was rewarded with some vibrancy from the young second-stringers. Willock looked particularly assured. He was given a warm ovation when subbed off.
With two wins from their opening two group games, last year’s finalists already look comfortably on course for the knock-outs.
Line up: Martinez – Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Tierney – Ceballos, Torreira, Willock (Guendouzi 74) – Maitland-Niles (Pepe 66), Martinelli, Nelson (Aubameyang 78). Subs not used: Leno, Chambers, Kolasinac, Xhaka.