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Saka – It was a beautiful night for me

WHAT HAPPENED

We're through to the knockout stage of the Europa League, and we did it as group winners after a fine fightback in Belgium.

Standard Liege - who had to win by five to deny us qualification - gave it a good go. They were feisty and forceful and enjoyed strokes of fortune with both their goals.

Samuel Bastien tried his luck from 22 yards and his shot took a huge deflection off Sokratis. Emi Martinez, completely wrongfooted and committed to his dive, couldn't quite reach the ball as it floated into the net.

Selim Amallah doubled Standard's lead when Joe Willock gave the ball away inside the box, but again the goal relied on a sizeable deflection - this time off Dinos Mavropanos - to beat Martinez.

Things looked bleak, but Bukayo Saka stemmed the flow with two game-changing contributions.

First, his brilliant cross from the left was headed in at close range by Alex Lacazette.

That was followed by a dancing run from Saka, an exchange of passes with Gabriel Martinelli, and a curling finish into the bottom corner. A sensational goal from the teenager.

As news filtered through that Eintracht Frankfurt were losing at home to Vitoria, Standard chased the winner that would take them through at the Germans' expense.

That made for a grandstand finish, but we held on to deny Standard, save Frankfurt, and get what we wanted.

HOW IT HAPPENED

Get the full story of our final Group F game with our play-by-play updates

THREE THINGS WE NOTICED

Coming soon

WHAT IT MEANS


TEAM NEWS

Freddie Ljungberg made nine changes from the side that lined up at West Ham on Monday.

Sokratis and Ainsley Maitland-Niles kept their places but had to adjust to a change of formation as our head coach opted for a 3-4-3 shape.

Mavropanos was drafted into the defence, Lacazette wore the captain's armband and Reiss Nelson and Smith Rowe completed the front three.

The absentee list was a long one: Bellerin, Ceballos, Holding, Pepe, Tierney and Xhaka were all nursing injuries, while Mustafi was suspended.

WHAT’S NEXT

We're back in Premier League action on Sunday, and it's a huge test. Champions Manchester City visit the Emirates.

Copyright 2019 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.

Arsene Wenger
This news item was provided by the Arsenal FC News Feed website - the original link is: http://feeds.arsenal.com/~r/arsenal-news/~3/Czh31VndJwo/saka-it-was-beautiful-night-me

Cluj 2-0 Celtic: Neil Lennon’s side end group stage with defeat

Celtic had gone unbeaten in the Europa League prior to the Cluj defeat

A much-changed Celtic side slipped to their first defeat in seven Europa League games this season, losing 2-0 to CFR Cluj in Romania.

Neil Lennon, whose team had already clinched top spot in the group and will be seeded for Monday's last-32 draw, made nine changes to the side that beat Rangers in Sunday's League Cup final.

And second-half goals by Andrei Burca and Damjan Djokovic ended the Scottish Premiership side's 12-game winning run in all competitions and gave Cluj a second win over Celtic this term.

Lennon - who left several first-team regulars in Glasgow - gave a debut to 18-year-old Scott Robertson, while 16-year-old Karamoko Dembele became the youngest player to represent Celtic in Europe.

Celtic's B team struggle in Transylvania

With top spot and qualification for the last 32 assured, Lennon opted for a team that lacked game time and, in some cases, experience too. And on a cold winter night, they struggled to impose themselves on a Cluj side that knew a victory would see them accompany Celtic into the knockout stages.

The first warning of a Romanian threat came from Billel Omrani. The Algerian forward scored twice and provided an assist at Celtic Park four months ago when Cluj knocked Lennon's side out of the Champions League and looked certain to score again in the 17th minute in Transylvania.

After latching on to a cut-back from Lacina Traore, Omrani had the entire Celtic goal beckoning but was unable to curl the ball beyond an on-rushing Craig Gordon.

Celtic tried to turn the momentum but with a tentative midfield duo of Olivier Ntcham and Robertson, they struggled to dominate possession in the way they had in their previous group games.

Traore then came close with a header shortly after the half hour when he latched on to a cross from Ciprian Deac, while a right-footed shot from Mihai Bordeianu five minutes from the break looked destined for the back of the net before it ricocheted off a Celtic player.

What the first half hinted at, the second half delivered. Cluj finally broke through three minutes after the break when Burca pulled away from Boli Bolingoli to latch on to a corner and head in at the front post.

Just three minutes later, the Romanians almost doubled their lead when a left-footed shot by Deac forced a superb save from Gordon.

Celtic showed some intent through a Leigh Griffiths header and a Mikey Johnston shot either side of the hour, before Ntcham's right-footed shot from outside the box forced a save from Giedrius Arlauskis.

Yet Cluj continued their search for a second goal. Twenty minutes after missing his own close-range opportunity, Deac latched on to a cross and cut the ball back to an unmarked Djokovic, who scored from inside the six-yard box.

Celtic responded by bringing on Vakoun Bayo, a fringe striker returning from injury, and 16-year-old Dembele, while regular starter James Forrest remained on the bench.

At full-time, the home support celebrated watching their side qualify from the group stages for the first time. But for Celtic, it is a game that they and their fans will surely forget soon enough.

Man of the match - Ciprian Deac

Deac is by no means a spring chicken at 33, but the Cluj winger did more than enough to put Celtic to the sword after setting up both of his team's goals.

In a match that offered very little in terms of attacking intent, Deac was instrumental in breaking the deadlock and proved to be a vital player as his side made history.

Match stats

  • Celtic have failed to score for the first time in Europe this season in what was their 14th game. They last drew blank in both last-32 matches against Valencia last term.
  • At 16 years and 293 days old, Dembele is the youngest player to play for Celtic in major European competition.
  • Cluj have qualified for the knockout stages - and won three successive home games - in a European competition for the first time.
  • Ciprian Deac has been directly involved in five of their Europa League goals, scoring two and providing the assist for each of the last three.


This news item was provided by the BBC Sport - Football website - the original link is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/50672297

Cluj 2-0 Celtic: Neil Lennon’s side end group stage with defeat

Celtic had gone unbeaten in the Europa League prior to the Cluj defeat

A much-changed Celtic side slipped to their first defeat in seven Europa League games this season, losing 2-0 to CFR Cluj in Romania.

Neil Lennon, whose team had already clinched top spot in the group and will be seeded for Monday's last-32 draw, made nine changes to the side that beat Rangers in Sunday's League Cup final.

And second-half goals by Andrei Burca and Damjan Djokovic ended the Scottish Premiership side's 12-game winning run in all competitions and gave Cluj a second win over Celtic this term.

Lennon - who left several first-team regulars in Glasgow - gave a debut to 18-year-old Scott Robertson, while 16-year-old Karamoko Dembele became the youngest player to represent Celtic in Europe.

Celtic's B team struggle in Transylvania

With top spot and qualification for the last 32 assured, Lennon opted for a team that lacked game time and, in some cases, experience too. And on a cold winter night, they struggled to impose themselves on a Cluj side that knew a victory would see them accompany Celtic into the knockout stages.

The first warning of a Romanian threat came from Billel Omrani. The Algerian forward scored twice and provided an assist at Celtic Park four months ago when Cluj knocked Lennon's side out of the Champions League and looked certain to score again in the 17th minute in Transylvania.

After latching on to a cut-back from Lacina Traore, Omrani had the entire Celtic goal beckoning but was unable to curl the ball beyond an on-rushing Craig Gordon.

Celtic tried to turn the momentum but with a tentative midfield duo of Olivier Ntcham and Robertson, they struggled to dominate possession in the way they had in their previous group games.

Traore then came close with a header shortly after the half hour when he latched on to a cross from Ciprian Deac, while a right-footed shot from Mihai Bordeianu five minutes from the break looked destined for the back of the net before it ricocheted off a Celtic player.

What the first half hinted at, the second half delivered. Cluj finally broke through three minutes after the break when Burca pulled away from Boli Bolingoli to latch on to a corner and head in at the front post.

Just three minutes later, the Romanians almost doubled their lead when a left-footed shot by Deac forced a superb save from Gordon.

Celtic showed some intent through a Leigh Griffiths header and a Mikey Johnston shot either side of the hour, before Ntcham's right-footed shot from outside the box forced a save from Giedrius Arlauskis.

Yet Cluj continued their search for a second goal. Twenty minutes after missing his own close-range opportunity, Deac latched on to a cross and cut the ball back to an unmarked Djokovic, who scored from inside the six-yard box.

Celtic responded by bringing on Vakoun Bayo, a fringe striker returning from injury, and 16-year-old Dembele, while regular starter James Forrest remained on the bench.

At full-time, the home support celebrated watching their side qualify from the group stages for the first time. But for Celtic, it is a game that they and their fans will surely forget soon enough.

Man of the match - Ciprian Deac

Deac is by no means a spring chicken at 33, but the Cluj winger did more than enough to put Celtic to the sword after setting up both of his team's goals.

In a match that offered very little in terms of attacking intent, Deac was instrumental in breaking the deadlock and proved to be a vital player as his side made history.

Match stats

  • Celtic have failed to score for the first time in Europe this season in what was their 14th game. They last drew blank in both last-32 matches against Valencia last term.
  • At 16 years and 293 days old, Dembele is the youngest player to play for Celtic in major European competition.
  • Cluj have qualified for the knockout stages - and won three successive home games - in a European competition for the first time.
  • Ciprian Deac has been directly involved in five of their Europa League goals, scoring two and providing the assist for each of the last three.


This news item was provided by the BBC Sport - Football website - the original link is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/50672297

Standard Liege 2-2 Arsenal: Gunners fight back secures top spot

Lacazette's goal was his sixth of the season

Arsenal came back from two-goals down to draw 2-2 at Standard Liege and progress to the last 32 of the Europa League as group winners.

The Gunners were all but through before kick-off, with the hosts needing to win 5-0 to prevent the visitors from going through to the knockout rounds - a result that looked even more unlikely after a first half Arsenal edged.

However, Samuel Bastien put the hosts ahead just after the restart when his shot deflected off Sokratis and beyond the wrong-footed Emiliano Martinez.

The goal boosted the hosts but visibly knocked the fragile confidence of the Arsenal players, who became even more nervy when Standard Liege got a second as Selim Amallah's strike from inside the area flew into the far corner via a slight deflection off Konstantinos Mavropanos.

It set things up for a tense final 20 minutes as the hosts pursued an unlikely result but Alexandre Lacazette settled the Gunners' nerves when he converted a bullet of a header.

Bukayo Saka then equalised with 10 minutes to go, curling a neat finish into the corner to secure the draw Arsenal needed to top Group F.

Gunners fight back but still work to do

Arsenal have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 13 matches in all competitions, equalling their worst ever run under Arsene Wenger

It was perhaps a bit too much to expect Monday's morale-boosting win at West Ham to mark an immediate upturn in Arsenal's performances, particularly after a torrid run of nine games without victory.

As was the case in London, the Gunners were below par for over an hour of this encounter and paid the price for poor defending - an area of concern for much of this season - when no players took responsibility to close down Standard Liege's players, allowing the goalscorers to get off shots that were easily preventable.

But it took going behind to spark Arsenal into life and, after weathering pressure from the hosts, a devastating three-minute spell killed off Standard Liege's hopes of an upset.

There were glimpses of what Arsenal are capable of but the fact it took falling behind for that show is something Freddie Ljungberg or a new manager will need to address quickly to prompt a more consistent run of form.

Saka shines again

One of the few bright spots in a miserable season for Arsenal has been the emergence of Saka.

The 18-year-old has looked lively and showed plenty of endeavour in his 13 appearances so far for the Gunners but this was arguably his best performance to date.

He finished the game with an assist and goal and could have had more but was denied by two excellent saves by Arnaud Bodart in the first half.

Saka has now assisted six goals for Arsenal in all competitions this season - two more than any other player - underlining his growing importance to the Gunners.

Man of the match - Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

Bukayo Saka has now been involved in six goals in Europe this season and was one of the few players to put in a strong performance for Arsenal on Thursday

Lacazette's long run continues - the stats

  • Arsenal avoided defeat in an away match having been two goals behind for the first time since April 2018, away at CSKA Moscow in the Europa League.
  • Standard Liege remain winless in all six matches against Arsenal (D1 L5), going two goals ahead in each of their last two home games against them and winning neither.
  • Arsenal have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 13 games in all competitions, equalling their worst run under Arsene Wenger (also 13 in a row between October and December 2004).
  • Alexandre Lacazette has scored 15 goals in his last 20 Europa League starts, a run stretching back to February 2017 when he played for Lyon.

What next?

Arsenal return to Premier League action this weekend as they host Manchester City on Sunday, 15 December (16:30 GMT).


This news item was provided by the BBC Sport - Football website - the original link is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/50749747

Match report: Standard Liege 2-2 Arsenal

WHAT HAPPENED

We're through to the knockout stage of the Europa League, and we did it as group winners after a fine fightback in Belgium.

Standard Liege - who had to win by five to deny us qualification - gave it a good go. They were feisty and forceful and enjoyed strokes of fortune with both their goals.

Samuel Bastien tried his luck from 22 yards and his shot took a huge deflection off Sokratis. Emi Martinez, completely wrongfooted and committed to his dive, couldn't quite reach the ball as it floated into the net.

Selim Amallah doubled Standard's lead when Joe Willock gave the ball away inside the box, but again the goal relied on a sizeable deflection - this time off Dinos Mavropanos - to beat Martinez.

Things looked bleak, but Bukayo Saka stemmed the flow with two game-changing contributions.

First, his brilliant cross from the left was headed in at close range by Alex Lacazette.

That was followed by a dancing run from Saka, an exchange of passes with Gabriel Martinelli, and a curling finish into the bottom corner. A sensational goal from the teenager.

As news filtered through that Eintracht Frankfurt were losing at home to Vitoria, Standard chased the winner that would take them through at the Germans' expense.

That made for a grandstand finish, but we held on to deny Standard, save Frankfurt, and get what we wanted.

HOW IT HAPPENED

Get the full story of our final Group F game with our play-by-play updates

THREE THINGS WE NOTICED

Coming soon

WHAT IT MEANS


TEAM NEWS

Freddie Ljungberg made nine changes from the side that lined up at West Ham on Monday.

Sokratis and Ainsley Maitland-Niles kept their places but had to adjust to a change of formation as our head coach opted for a 3-4-3 shape.

Mavropanos was drafted into the defence, Lacazette wore the captain's armband and Reiss Nelson and Smith Rowe completed the front three.

The absentee list was a long one: Bellerin, Ceballos, Holding, Pepe, Tierney and Xhaka were all nursing injuries, while Mustafi was suspended.

WHAT’S NEXT

We're back in Premier League action on Sunday, and it's a huge test. Champions Manchester City visit the Emirates.

Copyright 2019 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.

Arsene Wenger
This news item was provided by the Arsenal FC News Feed website - the original link is: http://feeds.arsenal.com/~r/arsenal-news/~3/InthSw82ov0/standard-liege-2-2-arsenal-match-report