Arsenal held on to a narrow victory in its to the Europa League opener after a couple years outside continental action.
The Gunners beat FC Zürich 2-1 thanks to goals from Marquinhos and Eddie Nketiah. The England striker set up the Brazilian for their first goal, while they essentially swapped roles for the second. Zürich managed to make things interesting when Mirland Kryeziu converted from the penalty spot.
Manager Mikel Arteta handed full debuts to the aforementioned Marquinhos, Fabio Vieira and USMNT number one Matt Turner. The Gunners dominated both possession (72%) and total shots (18), but just edged the hosts where it counts.
Fellow Premier League team Manchester United, however, failed to get off to a good start in their opening European game. United suffered a surprise 1-0 loss to Real Sociedad at Old Trafford. The only goal of the game came from a very controversial penalty in the second half.
Replays showed the Sociedad shot came off of Red Devils defender Lisandro Martinez’s arm. Yet, the ball clearly first glanced off of his knee. Nevertheless, VAR agreed with the original decision.
Sociedad picked up its first win against English opponents in the club’s history in European competition.
Other results in Thursday’s Europa League opener
Italian giants Roma suffered a shock defeat on the road to Ludogorets. The Bulgarian club snatched all three points thanks to a late goal from substitute Nonato. The Brazilian scored the winner just two minutes after the Italians equalized. Despite having 56% possession and 10 more shots than the home team, the Italians could not come away with a point.
Rome counterpart Lazio collected a big victory against Feyenoord thanks to three first half goals. The Serie A club added a fourth before the Dutch giants scored twice in the final 20 minutes of the match. Luis Alberto, Felipe Anderson and Matias Vecino appeared on the scoresheet in the Italian capital, with the latter securing a brace.
Real Betis also picked up a solid away win against HJK in Finland to continue their fine form. Willian Jose netted a brace of his own in the match. Unfortunately a significant injury takes the headlines. Winger Juanmi had to be carted off the pitch, an artificial grass field, after suffering an apparent ankle injury just a few minutes into the match. The 29-year-old former Southampton player reportedly had to be taken to a nearby hospital due to the incident.
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