Report as Arsenal thrashed Rapid Vienna in front of 2,000 returning supporters; Goals from Lacazette, Mari and Nketiah passionately celebrated by fans; Kitagawa’s strike briefly dampened mood; Sub Smith-Rowe sent fans home happy; Arsenal win Group B with one game to play

Arsenal put on a show as they welcomed 2,000 fans back to the Emirates Stadium with a 4-1 victory over Rapid Vienna in the Europa League.

Nine months after last being permitted to have fans inside the ground, 2,000 spectators were given access following new government guidelines and they were treated to another fine Europa League performance from the Gunners.Sponsored link

Koya Kitagawa’s strike just after the restart dampened the mood at the Emirates Stadium for a brief moment, but substitute Emile Smith-Rowe sent the fans home happy as Arsenal kept up their 100 per cent record in this season’s Europa League.

Victory ensures the Gunners finish top of Group B with one game – a trip to Dundalk next Thursday – left to play and head into Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham, live on Sky Sports, on a high.Sponsored Links

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How Arsenal entertained their returning fans…

It wasn’t long before the Arsenal fans were celebrating their first goal.

Arteta’s side took the lead with 10 minutes gone, Lacazette thumping home a shot from 30 yards out to spark passionate celebrations from the players and the supporters.

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Arsenal player ratings

Player ratings Arsenal: Runarsson (7), Cedric (6), Mustafi (7), Pablo Mari (7), Kolasinac (7), Maitland-Niles (7), Elneny (7), Nketiah (8), Pepe (7), Nelson (7), Lacazette (8).

Subs: Ceballos (6), Willian (6), Smith-Rowe (7), Chambers (6), Balogun (n/a)

Man of the match: Alexandre Lacazette

They were celebrating again soon after as Mari marked his return from injury by heading Reiss Nelson’s corner past Richard Strebinger for his first Arsenal goal.

Arsenal extended their advantage just before half time as Nketiah finished a lovely Arsenal move, heading into the bottom corner after Strebinger had done brilliantly to keep out his initial effort.

The visitors would hush the home fans minutes after the interval, Kitagawa firing in after Alex Runarsson had made a fine save and Sead Kolasinac had made two last-ditch blocks to keep the visitors at bay.

The mood was soon lifted again as substitute Smith-Rowe finished another fine Arsenal move, converting Nketiah’s cut back into an empty net.

It rounded off an excellent night’s work for Arteta’s men, who booked their place in the last-32 as Group B winners.

Arsenal team news

Arsenal defender Pablo Mari made his first appearance of the season. Mari, who suffered an ankle injury in June, was making just his fourth appearance for the Gunners since joining in January.

He came into a side which was completely changed from Sunday’s Premier League defeat to Wolves. Alex Runarsson returned in goal while there were also recalls for the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Mohamed Elneny, with Nicolas Pepe returning in the middle of a domestic ban.

What Arteta said…

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta: “First of all, delighted to have the fans back, they make a huge difference. They were loud, they were very supportive with the team and they were really helpful so thanks to them for coming and making the effort.

“The performance, right from the start, the boys wanted it, they were hurt from the defeat in the previous game and they showed the attitude and the desire that is required to play. We were really aggressive with the ball, we wanted to put the ball in the box, we arrived in numbers, we created many chances and now we have another one on Sunday.”

Man of the match – Alexandre Lacazette

Lacazette caught the eye in a deeper role against Rapid Vienna. He was at the heart of plenty of what was good about Arsenal’s play and got himself on the scoresheet.

He 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.

It was also his first goal for Arsenal in 488 minutes in all competitions, which will be a huge boost for his confidence.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said of Lacazette’s performance: “He’s played a good game in that position. It suits him. He’s really good at linking play, he worked hard and scored a beautiful goal.”

Opta stats – Arsenal’s perfect Europa League record continues

  • Arsenal have won each of their first five matches to a season in major European competition (excluding qualifiers) for only the second time, having last done so in the 2005-06 UEFA Champions League, reaching the final that season.
  • Rapid Wien 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 3+ goals in four consecutive European games for the first time since March 2000, on their way to the UEFA Cup final that season.
  • Pablo Marí scored his first Arsenal goal with his first ever shot on target for the Gunners and just his second attempt overall (4th appearance in all competitions).
  • All 16 of Eddie Nketiah’s goals in his senior club career have been scored from inside the box (11 for Arsenal, 5 for Leeds).

What’s next for Arsenal?

Arsenal are back in action on Super Sunday with a trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to face north London rivals Tottenham, live on Sky Sports.

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