BEL­LERIN DE­LIGHT ON ARSE­NAL’S LATE NIGHT

GUN­NERS ROAR BACK FROM BE­HIND TO SINK COLOGNE IN DE­LAYED EUROPA LEAGUE OPENER

Sunderland Echo - - Football -

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.

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