The Gunners began the day leading Group B of the competition after thumping PSV Eindhoven 4-0 in the previous matchday. Four different scorers hit the back of the net for Arsenal on the day. Lens, on the other hand, drew with Sevilla after going down inside the first 10 minutes of the match.
Visitors strike first but lose star to injury
The Stade Bollaert-Delelis was rocking Tuesday evening as Lens hosted their first Champions League group stage match in 21 years. The capacity of the thunderous arena is more than the actual town of Lens. Nevertheless, it was Arsenal to strike first in the match.
Bukayo Saka picked up a stray pass inside the opposing half of the pitch in the 14th minute. The winger then sent a pass to Gabriel Jesus racing towards goal. Jesus collected the ball and placed a shot just inside the far post to give the Gunners the lead. It was the Brazilian’s second Champions League goal in as many games.
The hosts, however, leveled the scoreline with an incredible team goal just 11 minutes later. Gunners’ goalkeeper David Raya initially gave the ball away with a loose long pass. Deiver Machado collected the ball and played a pass over the top toward star striker Elye Wahi. The forward then cleverly passed to teammate Adrien Thomasson. The midfielder, who was partially at fault for allowing the Arsenal goal, sent a beautiful curling effort by a diving Raya.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Saka had to be replaced due to injury in the 34th minute. The star winger previously limped off of the pitch during the club’s most recent victory against Bournemouth. Many assumed manager Mikel Arteta would rest Saka for the trip to Lens. Nevertheless, the coach’s gamble did not pay off. The Englishman was, however, able to walk off under his own power while holding his thigh and was later seen on the bench.
Lens grabs winner in second half against Arsenal
After Arsenal squandered a few solid scoring chances early in the second half, Wahi put the hosts ahead for good in the 69th minute. Przemyslaw Frankowski sent a perfect cross towards his teammate inside the box. Wahi wasted no time and struck a first-time shot into the back of the net. It was the club’s record signing’s second goal of the current campaign.
The Wahi goal deflated the Gunners. Arsenal still racked up plenty of possession following the strike but could not produce any real scoring chances on the night. In the end, Lens held on to the narrow victory.
With the win, the French side jumped above the Gunners atop Group B. Although it is still early in the competition, the Gunners currently sit second in the group, one point behind their most recent opponents.
PHOTO: IMAGO / PA Images.
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