Arsenal 3-1 Cologne

Sead Kolasinac and Alexis hit stunning second-half strikes to win us a game that was delayed for an hour by crowd safety issues.

It hardly seemed worth the wait when a piece of individual brilliance from Jhon Cordoba caught us out in the 10th minute.

 David Ospina rushed out to clear from outside his box and, when the ball was knocked back into Cordoba’s feet, he had the presence of mind to spin and launch a shot from 40 yards that sailed over the retreating goalkeeper and into the net.

That setback - and the noise being generated by the Cologne fans - made this feel like an away match at times. But having carved out half-chances in the first half - mostly through Olivier Giroud headers - we turned the screw after the break.

Kolasinac’s half-time introduction and a switch to 4-2-3-1 paid immediate dividends when the Bosnian lashed home a volley after Theo Walcott’s attempted cross had flicked up off a defender.

Cologne, having looked neat and tidy early on, were now retreating. And Alexis, too deep to do damage in the first half, increasingly found himself in dangerous positions.

 He made it count. Chasing the ball down on the left touchline, Alexis dribbled inside, evaded two defenders and worked himself just enough space to curl a sumptuous shot inside the far post. The keeper barely moved.

 Jack Wilshere came on seconds later - a year and 14 days after his last first-team appearance - and received one of the biggest cheers of the night. Hector Bellerin added some gloss to the win, showing desire to reach a rebound first and fire past Timo Horn after Walcott’s shot had been saved.

 A delayed start, then a false start… but a happy ending to our Europa League debut.


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