Arsenal started their latest sojourn in the Europa League with a 3-0 win over ten-men Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany thanks to Bukayo Saka, the man of the match who scored one and assisted the other two goals.
Bukayo Saka, the 18-year-old footballer, born to Nigerian parents in London, prowled the left-side for the entire 90 minutes in the Gunners’ second straight season in Europe’s second-tier competition.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finished scoring for the North London club who were beaten finalists last season. He was the main threat for Unai Emery’s side in the first half, dribbling past a Frankfurt player on the counter before setting up fellow youngster, Joe Willock for the opener.
Although the winger was wasteful, he finally doubled Arsenal’s lead in the 85th minute, six minutes after Frankfurt had Dominik Kohr sent off for a second booking. Saka emphatically blasted in a left-foot shot into the bottom corner from just outside the area to become Arsenal’s youngest goalscorer in Europe since Aaron Ramsey in 2008.
Aubameyang added more gloss to the scoreline two minutes later, benefitting from the academy product’s steal and through pass to nail a combative but unlucky Frankfurt side, who had 24 shots on goal, to their heaviest home loss in European competitions.
ANOTHER YOUNGSTER BAILS OUT POOR MANCHESTER UNITED
Mason Greenwood, scored a delightful winner but Manchester United failed to impress in their 1-0 over minnows, Astana, at Old Trafford.
The 17-year-old, who is relied upon by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the manager, to fill the void of both departed Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku when called upon, produced the winning goal in the 72nd minute, rescuing the 2018 Europa League winners from an embarrassing draw against their little-known opponent from Kazakhstan.
It was Greenwood’s first senior goal in only his second game. Marcus Rashford had spurn two excellent opportunities to hand a lacklustre United side the lead in a goalless first period.
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-3 Arsenal
Manchester United 1-0 Astana
Wolves 0-1 FC Braga
FC Porto 2-1 Young Boys
Qarabag 0-3 Sevilla
FC Basel 5-0 Krasnodar
PSV Eindhoven 3-2 Sporting Lisbon
Roma 4-0 Istanbul Baseksehir
Ludogorets 5-1 CSKA Moscow
Borrusia Monchengladbach 0-4 Wolfsberger AC
Teen sensation Bukayo Saka is trying to follow in the footsteps of Freddie Ljungberg as he dreams of becoming an Arsenal star. Saka became the youngest player to score for Arsenal in the Europa League since 2008 as he doubled the tally from distance.
Arsenal forward Saka has become a regular in the first team set-up and announced himself on the big stage after scoring and providing two assists in the Europa League win at Eintracht Frankfurt.
The first thing he did afterwards was to FaceTime his dad and then pay tribute to Arsenal coach Ljungberg who has been a huge inspiration in his fledgling career from youth team days to breaking into the first team.
Saka said: “Because I feel like he’s (Ljungberg) been a player before so he understands how I would feel, he’s played in my position and it’s just so good to have him there, an Arsenal legend giving me advice. There’s not much more I can ask for.
“Freddie is very supportive of me. It helps so much. Sometimes when I don’t understand, when the coach is trying to communicate with me, I have a better communication with Freddie sometimes, he speaks better English.
And speaking about Ljunberg, Saka revealed: “It helps me so much having Freddie on the training pitch.
“Sometimes when the manager is trying to communicate with me I don’t understand what he is saying and Freddie speaks better English.
“Freddie has been a player at this level before and a very good one. “He played in the same position as me on the left wing and he’s been a big part in my progress.
“I couldn’t ask for much more than to have an Arsenal legend giving me advice every day.
“He’s been with me since I was 15 and seen me do amazing things but his main message is always to stay humble and keep working hard because he really thinks I can be a top player.”
Saka is just the latest prodigy to roll off the Arsenal production line, with fellow academy graduates Joe Willock, Emile Smith Rowe and Ainsley-Maitland Niles also making an impact in Germany on Thursday.
And young winger Saka continued: “It’s good to have your mates around you to push you and to pick you up when you’re down.
“There will be a lot of opportunities for us this season in the Europa League and I hope I can keep progressing and maybe one day start playing in the Premier League for Arsenal.”