Arsenal opened their Europa League campaign against FC Koln on thursday night with a 3-1 win over their German opponents.The Bundesliga’s bottom placed club made an encouraging start to the first Europa League match of the season and harried the home team a number of teams in the opening stages. It was them who took the lead when Jhon Cordoba latched on to David Ospina’s loose clearance. Arsenal’s stand-in keeper left his goal vacant and vulnerable by a scuffed clearance, though Cordoba still had a lot to do and showed great awareness and skill to quickly turn and punish Ospina with a well-executed finish from 40 yards out. After trailing 0-1 at halftime, Arsene Wenger made a change to the back four with Kolasinac replacing Holding which went on to make all the difference. Kolasinac fired in a thumping volley to level out the scores which was followed by strikes from Sanchez and Bellerin to finish the match with a 3-1 scoreline. http://Embed from Getty Images Arsenal’s opening Europa League Group H game was delayed by an hour because of safety concerns caused by the Germans bringing an estimated 20,000 fans to the Emirates Stadium. It was a fine win for the gunners after their nervy start but for all their effort the match will be remembered for the unsavory drama and commotion caused by the travelling fans in a very memorable Europa League fixture. http://Embed from Getty Images Elsewhere in Group H, Red Star Belgrade and BATE Borisov drew 1-1, meaning that Arsenal top the pool after the opening round of fixtures.
Meanwhile here is how the manager and the players spoke about their hectic evening and the experience of playing in the Europa League for the first time.
Arsene Wenger on waiting for the match to start :
“We waited patiently in our dressing room but what was difficult for me was that I had all kinds of plans to think about,”“Do we play tomorrow? At what time do we want to play? Do we play next week, but they have a Bundesliga game midweek we have a League Cup game midweek. Do we move it to Tuesday and play Thursday? It was all kinds of speculations that we had to analyse ““In the end, at some stage, I thought they will not play the game. I can’t see the police taking any risk. We live in a society of 100 per cent security”“I thought they would never take a gamble to play this game when I saw the images around the stadium but I must say our supporters dealt well with the situation. There was no aggravation and I hope everything goes well after the game.
Hector Bellerin speaking after his first Europa League match :
“It’s a new competition for us so we had to set the tone. We think we are one of the best teams in the competition so we have to show that on the pitch. “I’m very happy for the victory. We were ready to play at eight o’clock, but these things happen. We started a bit with cold feet but after that it just worked. “The win in the league against Bournemouth and today’s win, coming back from behind, gives you a boost. We will train over the next two days and then be ready for Chelsea.“