BELLERIN DELIGHT ON ARSENAL’S LATE NIGHT
GUNNERS ROAR BACK FROM BEHIND TO SINK COLOGNE IN DELAYED EUROPA LEAGUE OPENER
Hector Bellerin insisted it had to be business as usual for Arsenal after a disruptive pre-match build-up to last night’s 3-1 Europa League win over Cologne.
Kick-off at the Emirates Stadium was delayed by an hour due to many Cologne fans either travelling without tickets or purchasing tickets in home sections of the ground. Four arrests were made on suspicion of public order offences as extra police were deployed.
There are plenty of questions to be answered by Arsenal as to how the situation was able to unfold as it did.
Problems were all-but a certainty as some 20,000 Cologne supporters took to the streets of London hours before kick-off.
The visiting masses were celebrating when their team took an early lead through Jhon Cordoba’s 40-yard strike and maintained it until half-time, but substitute Sead Kolasinac’s volley, Alexis Sanchez’s superb curler and Bellerin’s 82nd-minute goal saw Arsenal to a 3-1 win.
Bellerin said: “We were ready to play at 8pm, but we had to play an hour late. You have to be ready, these things happen – not often, but you have to be ready.
“After not a very good start, the boss changed things and it worked, it gave us a boost in the second half and we’re happy to go on and get the victory.”
The win will provide an important lift ahead of a difficult Premier League trip to Chelsea on Sunday.
And Bellerin added: “We alreadyhadconfidence(from Saturday’s win over Bournemouth) and this win, and coming back from losing, gives us a boost.
“We’ll train hard these two days coming and we’ll be ready for Sunday.”
The introduction of Kolasinac at half-time played a big part in Arsenal turning the game around and manager Arsene Wenger admitted he had to make changes.
Keeper David Ospina’s under-hit clearance led to Arsenal falling behind – though Cordoba’s finish was superb – and the Gunners were hanging on at times. “We had a bit of a slow start, and conceded an accidental goal,” said Wenger. “After that it was important not to concede a second goal and not to panic.
“We wanted to inject a bit more pace into the game in the second half, and from there I think we controlled the game and it was a convincing win in the end.”
Sanchez, back in the lineup for the first time since his move to Manchester City fell through, showed his quality by cutting in from the left to fire home the second goal from the edge of the box.
“We want him here,” said Wenger. “He’s a fantastic footballplayerbutphysically,heis just coming back. It’s always in his locker to deliver something special, which he did.”
Defender Hector Bellerin hits home Arsenal’s third goal in last night’s Europa League group-stage win over German visitors Cologne.