Gunners beat Molde to maintain perfect Europa League record
Two own-goals along with strikes from Nicolas Pepe and Joe Willock earn Arsenal a 4-1 comeback win to leave them top of Group B
05 November, 2020 — By Steve Barnett
Europa League: Group B
ARSENAL 4 (Haugen 45+1 og, Sinyan 62 og, Pepe 69, Willock 88)
MOLDE 1 (Ellingsen 22)
ARSENAL overcame an early scare to maintain their perfect start in the Europa League with a 4-1 victory over reigning Norwegian champions Molde at the Emirates Stadium.
For the second time in three Group B matches, the Gunners had to come from behind after Martin Ellingsen beat Bernd Leno from distance to give the visitors a shock lead.
But there was more calamity than quality as two own-goals, along with strikes from Nicolas Pepe and Joe Willock, saw the north Londoners turn the tie around to top the table with three wins out of three.
“We had a convincing victory and the boys tried to go for them from the first minute,” insisted Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta after the game. “We went a goal behind but it was about the reaction, we created lots of chances.
“If they did not score the own-goals, we had players there for the tap in. I really like the approach that the younger players are bringing to each game, they are playing with a lot of personality.”
Arsenal fans watching at home were hoping to see some fireworks on bonfire night, but it was Molde who took the lead midway through the first-half.
Leno’s aimless punt downfield was quickly returned with interest as former Manchester United reserve player Magnus Wolff Eikrem picked out Ellingsen, who curled a delightful finish into the bottom corner from all of 25-yards.
The Gunners were unlucky to see an equaliser ruled out just before the break. Eddie Nketiah tapped home Pepe’s low cross from close range, but the celebrations were cut short by the offside flag.
Replays showed it was in fact Willock – who didn’t actually touch the ball – that was offside, but with VAR only coming into play in the knockout stages of the competition the goal was quickly chalked off.
The disappointment didn’t last long, however, as within a couple of minutes the home side drew level in fortuitous fashion.
A swift counter-attack resulted in Nketiah putting a dangerous ball into the box where, under pressure from Willock, Kristoffer Haugen stuck out a leg and put the ball into his own net.
Arsenal should have taken the lead within minutes of the restart bar for a shocking miss that will earn plenty of replays from fans needing a laugh in lockdown.
Willock’s cross was spilled by goalkeeper Andreas Linde straight into the path of Sead Kolasinac but the Gunners defender scooped his shot over the crossbar from four-yards out.
The comeback was finally completed just past the hour mark. Willock steered the ball into the danger zone, and with Arsenal players queuing up to provide the finishing touch, Molde substitute Sheriff Sinyan turned the ball into his own net.
The game was put beyond doubt in the 69th minute when Pepe swept home from the edge of the penalty area after good work from Bukayo Saka.
Willock then helped himself to a deserved goal, firing emphatically into the roof of the net after being played in by Pepe.
Arsenal: Leno, Maitland-Niles (Soares, 63), Mustafi, Luiz, Kolasinac, Ceballos (Elneny, 80), Xhaka (Tierney, 80), Willian (Saka, 64), Willock, Pepe, Noketiah
Substitutes not used: Runarsson, Macey, Bellerin, Gabriel, Lacazette, Aubameyang, Holding, Partey
Molde: Linde, Wingo, Bjornbak, Gregersen (Sinyan, 45), Haugen, Aursnes, Wolff Eikrem (Brynhildsen, 74), Hussain, Elllingsen (Mostrom, 86), Omoijuanfo (James, 74), Bolly (Knudtzon, 63)
Substitutes not used: Craninx, Ranmark, Risa, Christensen, Pedersen