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  • By Charlie Stong at Emirates Stadium

Tierney's goal secures top spot for Gunners in Europa win against Zurich


Arsenal 1

Tierney, 17

FC Zurich 0


In what had a week ago seemed like an inevitable walk in the park, Arsenal in the end made rather hard work of winning their Europa League group, but confirmed that position with a hard-fought win over FC Zurich at the Emirates tonight.


The Gunners’ 2-0 defeat in Holland last week had opened the door to PSV Eindhoven – and the Dutch side’s win against Bodo/Glimt tonight meant Arsenal had also to secure victory if they were to avoid finishing second.


They did so thanks to Kieran Tierney’s wand of a left foot – the only goal of this game which means Arsenal avoid having to play two more games in an already super-congested season – group winners progress directly to the round of 16, while second-place sides face a play-off to get there.


After a scrappy start amidst a haze of Swiss smoke created by some early-season fireworks, the Gunners took the lead after 17 minutes thanks to Tierney.


Ben White’s cross from the right byline was cleared only as far as Reiss Nelson, whose shot cannoned back off a defender into the path of the left-back, who struck a sweet left-footed shot from outside the area to put Arsenal ahead.


Arsenal could easily have been two up three minutes later. Eddie Nketiah’s shot was flapped at by Zurich goalkeeper Yanick Brecher, but Gabriel Jesus was unable to convert the rebound.


Nketiah then had his shirt pulled in the Zurich box but was the victim of his own honesty when he stayed on his feet, and the referee waved away claims for a penalty – and we wonder why players are often quick to go down in such situations.


Jonathan Okita then had Zurich’s first real chance with a shot from outside the box, which was well stopped by Aaron Ramsdale.


Nketiah was looking sharp and it took a quick reaction save from Brecher minutes later to deny him from a header.


Arsenal were by now battering the goal of group A’s bottom side, but with no further success.


The impressive Fabio Vieira saw a shot blocked as the clock ticked down towards half-time, and the score remained 1-0.


Arsenal started the second half where they had left off the first – on the front foot. Jesus had a chance to make it 2-0 immediately, but Brecher spread himself well and deflected the ball over the bar with his body.


Mikel Arteta then introduced Thomas Partey and Bukayo Saka, concerned no doubt about the possibility of those two extra games, and immediately Arsenal created another chance for Vieira, but this time he fired over the crossbar.


Zurich then had an opportunity to level when Ramsdale saved brilliantly from Antonio Marchesano, and immediately Arteta brought on two more heavyweights, Odegaard and Tomiyasu – the latter who was himself substituted when injured.


Zurich were growing in confidence and substitute Bohdan Viunnyk so nearly made it 1-1 with a shot from 20 yards that rose just over the bar.


But the Gunners held on and secure their passage into the last 16.


Teams:

Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tierney, White (Tomiyasu, 73, (Cedric, 88),), Gabriel, Jesus (Saka, 63), Nketiah, Holding, Vieira (Odegaard, 73), Sambi Lokonga, Nelson, Elneny (Partey, 63)

FC Zurich: Brecher, Kamberi, Guerrero, Aliti (Santini, 89), Selnaes (Hornschuh, 78), Okita, Tosin (Viunnyk, 78), Conde (Krasniqi, 82), Boranijasevic, Rohner, Katic

Referee: Erik Lambrechts (Belgium)

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