FC Zürich 1-2 Arsenal: Marquinhos and Nketiah take three points back to North London
ST GALLEN, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: Nikola Boranijasevic of FC Zuerich and Marquinhos of Arsenal FC battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa League group A match between FC Zürich and Arsenal FC at Kybunpark on September 8, 2022 in St Gallen, Switzerland. (Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Goals from debutant Marquinhos and Eddie Nketiah were enough to secure a victory in Arsenal's opening Europa League game.

The Gunners were dominant against Franco Froda's side but a lack of ruthlessness meant that the game was closer than it probably should have been. 

The visitors took the lead through Brazilian Marquinhos who was making his debut for the club, and despite conceding a penalty just before half time, Nketiah's goal secured all three points.

  • Story of the match

Mikel Arteta fielded a much-changed starting eleven to the side who faced Manchester United on Sunday. Matt Turner made his debut in goal after joining from New England Revolution in the summer and Kieran Tierney, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Rob Holding also came into the Arsenal defence. 

There were also full competitive debuts for Fabio Vieira and Marquinhos. Vieira, who signed for £30 million from Porto in the summer, came off the bench at Old Trafford, whilst Marquinhos was making his debut following his move from Sao Paolo

Zürich made four changes from their defeat to FC Lugano on Saturday. The Swiss champions have had a torrid start to their domestic campaign losing five of their opening seven fixtures.

It was a slightly nervy start from the Gunners in the opening minutes as Tierney had to clear off the line from Zürich’s top scorer Aiyegun Tosin

But before long Arsenal began to show their dominance. As they started to control possession Gabriel Martinelli headed wide from a Marquinhos cross, symptomatic of their free-flowing attacking play which has seen them win five out of six Premier League games. 

Minutes later they turned their dominance into a goal. Vieira played a delightful ball down the left hand side to set Eddie Nketiah on the counter-attack, and his ball across the face of goal was emphatically finished by debutant Marquinhos. The Brazilian wheeled away in celebration and was visibly emotional as he opened his account for Arsenal

ST GALLEN, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: Marquinhos of Arsenal FC celebrates after scoring his team's first goal with teammates during the UEFA <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2022/04/21/arsenal/1109225-west-ham-united-vs-arsenal-preview-the-gunners-to-land-the-hammer-blow.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2022/04/21/arsenal/1109225-west-ham-united-vs-arsenal-preview-the-gunners-to-land-the-hammer-blow.html'>Europa League</a></strong> group A match between FC Zürich and Arsenal FC at Kybunpark on September 8, 2022 in St Gallen, Switzerland. (Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
ST GALLEN, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: Marquinhos of Arsenal FC celebrates after scoring his team's first goal with teammates during the UEFA Europa League group A match between FC Zürich and Arsenal FC at Kybunpark on September 8, 2022 in St Gallen, Switzerland. (Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

 

The visitors continued the first half well in the ascendancy, and they could have easily added to their lead through the impressive Vieira. Albert Sambi Lokonga clipped a ball over the defence for the Portuguese midfielder but his cheeky chip over the goalkeeper also cleared the crossbar.

Granit Xhaka, who was captaining the side for the night, also went close with a long range effort and Arteta’s men were looking dangerous. Against the run of play, however, the hosts were presented with a glorious opportunity to get back into the game. 

On the stroke of half time the ball found its way to Fidan Aliti after a corner, and he was clumsily brought to ground by Nketiah. After a brief VAR check the penalty was given and was coolly converted by Mirlind Kryeziu to equalise. 

There was a minute of silence as the players emerged for the second half to respect the life of Queen Elizabeth II, whose death was sadly announced during half time. 

ST GALLEN, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: . Minute of silence for the Queen of England during the UEFA Europa League group A match between FC Zürich and Arsenal FC at Kybunpark on September 8, 2022 in St Gallen, Switzerland. (Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
ST GALLEN, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: . Minute of silence for the Queen of England during the UEFA Europa League group A match between FC Zürich and Arsenal FC at Kybunpark on September 8, 2022 in St Gallen, Switzerland. (Photo by Harry Langer/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

 

Arsenal continued the second half in a similarly dominant vein to the first half, but they struggled to add the all-important clinical touch to their play. 

Martinelli curled a shot straight at Yanick Brecher and Nketiah’s weaving run ended with his effort being deflected safely into the arms of the Swiss keeper. 

With half an hour left to play, however, Arsenal did finally put themselves back in front. Marquinhos’ delicious cross from the right was met by the head of Nketiah who had peeled away from his marker at the back post. 

It was no more than they deserved and it was an opportunity for them to really turn on the style with their attacking play to see off the match. 

The introduction of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus and Martin Ødegaard from the substitutes bench looked to close the game off but the trio failed to add the ruthlessness to Arsenal's control of possession.

There was a late chance for the Swiss side to grab a point when substitute Ivan Santini could only direct his free header straight at Turner. 

Arsenal's lack of a finishing touch led to a nervy last few minutes but the goals from Marquinhos and Nketiah were enough to send The Gunners back to North London with three vital points in the Europa League. 

  • Player of the match - Marquinhos

It was the perfect debut for the Brazilian. He was excellent before being substituted in the 69th minute. 

He opened the scoring with a fantastic finish from Nketiah's cross and looked a constant threat. His performance was topped off with a pearler of a cross in the second half which provided Nketiah a goal of his own. 

Mikel Arteta will be delighted with his start and he could well prove to be an invaluable attacking option for The Gunners this season.

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