Arsenal got their Europa League campaign off to a very eventful start as they came from behind to win 3-1 against Cologne.
The match, supposed to kick off at 20:05, was delayed by an hour in the interests of crowd safety as 17,000 ticket-less Cologne fans descended on the Emirates.
With nine minutes played, Arsenal were behind. Cologne’s Jhon Cordoba pounced on a poor clearance from Colombia team-mate David Ospina and lifted the ball over the keeper from about 45 yards to open the scoring.
Ospina nearly made another costly mistake when he wiped out Jonas Hector in the penalty area after fumbling Konstantin Rausch’s cross. Fortunately the flag had already been raised for offside otherwise it would have been a definite penalty and potentially a red card.
Arsenal didn’t create any chances of note in the first half. They struggled to break down a German side who are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with zero points from three games.
That changed at the start of the second half when Kolasinac’s excellent left-footed strike provided the equaliser for the Gunners. The former Schalke left-back had been on the pitch for just four minutes when he put Arsenal level. Only Arsene Wenger knows why he was on the bench in the first place.
Alexis Sanchez, making his first start for Arsenal since he was denied a deadline day move to Manchester City, put his disappointment aside to give his side the lead. In a moment of individual brilliance, Sanchez cut in from the left and curled a superb ball into the far corner. Just like last season Sanchez delivered when Arsenal needed him most.
Shortly after Sanchez’s goal, Jack Wilshere came on for his first Arsenal appearance in 13 months to rapturous applause.
Hector Bellerin sealed the win seven minutes from time with a close range effort in the box. Theo Walcott’s shot was saved by Timo Horn and Bellerin was quickest to the rebound.
After a chaotic start to the match, Arsenal were 3-1 winners and topped Europa League Group H.
Arsenal Starting XI: Ospina, Holding (Kolasinac 45), Mertesacker, Monreal, Bellerin, Iwobi (Wilshere 68), Elneny, Maitland-Niles, Walcott (Nelson 83), Giroud, Sanchez.
Unused substitutes: Macey, Mustafi, Reine-Adelaide, Akpom
Cologne Starting XI: Timo Horn, Klunter (Osaka 76), Mere, Heintz, Rausch, Hector (Jojic 35), Bittencourt, Hoger, Lehmann, Zoller (Risse 65), Cordoba
Unused substitutes: Kessler, Sorensen, Guirassy, Horn
Featured Image Credit: ctwino