Real Madrid 2-2 (3-2 pens) Arsenal: Gunners suffer first pre-season defeat to Madrid on penalties 
Bukayo Sako evades the Madrid defence. Photo by David Price/Getty Images.

Real Madrid secured a victory over Arsenal on penalties after the two sides were unable to be separated during the 90 minutes. 

Goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave the Gunners and early lead but Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio clawed Madrid back into the game. 

The two sides were separated by penalties as the Spanish side prevailed 3-2 victors with only Bale failing to convert. 

Arsenal dominate the first 45 minutes

The first half certainly didn’t lack action. Arsenal came straight out of the blocks and dominated Real Madrid from the kick off. 

An early ball over the top saw Sead Kolasinac brought down by last man Nacho on the edge of the box, with the Spaniard grateful to escape a sending off.  

The breakthrough didn’t take long to come.

Granit Xhaka burst through the Real Madrid defence before slotting Lacazette in. The Frenchman rounded the keeper and attempted to slot home from a narrow-angle, but his shot was blocked by the hand of Nacho resulting in a penalty and a red card. 

Lacazette calmly converted his penalty past Keylor Navas with the help of both posts to give Arsenal the lead within ten minutes. 

The Gunners’ dominance continued, and it didn’t take long for Emery’s side to double their lead through Aubameyang. Lacazette’s flick put the Gabonese forward in behind the Madrid defence before he rounded Navas and put Arsenal 2-0 up. 

The teams were soon levelled to ten men apiece. Sokratis was sent off five minutes before half time for two quickfire yellow cards after challenges on Toni Kroos and Luka Modric

Karim Benzema missed Real Madrid’s biggest chance of the half, sending a free header narrowly wide from an inch-perfect Kroos cross. 

They say it’s a game of two halves

Half time saw Arsenal make a sole change, bringing Nacho Monreal on for Willock. Real made no less than 6 changes, with the potentially outbound Bale replacing Eden Hazard who had a quiet night against Carl Jenkinson.

Madrid were quick to reply to the Gunners’ first-half dominance as Asensio struck the post with a venomous 30-yard strike seven minutes into the second half. 

An eye-watering move started by Marcelo on the left was finished by Bale as he pulled a goal back after Martinez pushed the ball away from Asensio’s feet. 

Arsenal didn’t have much time to regroup before Madrid had equalised with Marcelo involved again. The Brazilian pulled the ball back towards the edge of the box to be met by Asensio who powered it past Martinez at his near post to make it 2-2 just before the hour mark. 

Shortly after equalising, Asensio had to be stretchered off, looking visibly upset, after a challenge with Aubameyang. 

Emery left it late to introduce more changes. Bukayo Saka, Reiss Nelson, Robbie Burton and Eddie Nketiah entered the frame for Lacazette, Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil and Henrik Mkhitaryan.

Arsenal thought they had won it with ten minutes to go, but a Callum Chambers effort was cleared off the line by Bale. Nketiah also missed two clear chances late on, one a free header that should have hit the back of Thibaut Courtois’ net. 

Takeaways from the match

Mesut Ozil looks rejuvenated

The former Germany international has been made a scapegoat by Arsenal fans, regularly being accused of not working hard enough defensively and costing the team when it mattered. This wasn’t the case tonight.

Ozil came deep to both collect and win the ball on numerous occasions. Could Emery have finally ingrained his philosophy into Ozil?

Jenkinson could still have a role to play

It takes a lot to keep Eden Hazard at bay and Jenkinson did just that. The Belgian had a very quiet 45 minutes before being substituted at half time for Gareth Bale. Not only was he defensively sound for the most of the game, but he was also effective going forward. 

The youth players aren’t shy

Every youth player that featured against Real played fearlessly. No one hid, they constantly showed for the ball and the link-up play was very encouraging. Eddie Nketiah was unlucky not to win the match. This season is set to be very exciting for Arsenal’s academy prospects.

Stand-out players

Willock put in another mature performance before he was substituted. Fans will be eager to see him break into the first team this term.

Nketiah came off the bench and was a menace to the Real defence. He was unlucky not to score.

Lacazette was Arsenal’s most influential player today; winning and converting an inch-perfect penalty and a clever flick to assist Aubameyang for the second goal. 

What pleased Emery?

In the post-match press conference football.london reported Emery stating “in the transition we were very strong. In the last minutes the impact with the young players was amazing”. 

The Spaniard went on to add “The result isn’t important but we showed good level and when we needed young players their performance was perfect.” 

It seems clear that Arsenal are looking to integrate the fruits of their academy into the first team as much as possible following a successful pre-season. 

With lots of work still yet to do in the transfer market ahead of their season opener against Newcastle, Arsenal may have saved themselves both time and money unearthing their own home-grown gems.

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