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Vorskla 0-3 Arsenal AS IT HAPPENED: Gunners win Europa League group, Smith Rowe on target | Football | Sport

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The Group E fixture was moved 185 miles east of Poltava to the capital’s Olympic Stadium, with parts of Ukraine under martial law as political tensions with Russia continue to rise.

Any inconvenience for Unai Emery and his players did not show as youngsters Emile Smith Rowe and Joe Willock scored either side of an Aaron Ramsey penalty to confirm a win in temperatures that dropped as low as minus 10 degrees.

The last English side to play in the Olympic Stadium were Liverpool as they lost last season’s Champions League final to Real Madrid but this contest – watched by a minimal crowd – was never going to live up to such an occasion.

Topping the group ensures the Gunners will be seeded for the round-of-32 draw and will face a runner-up from another Europa League group or one of the four sides with the worst records who drop down from the Champions League.

Arsenal XI: Cech, Lichtsteiner, Jenkinson, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Elneny, Willock, Ramsey, Smith Rowe, Nketiah.

Vorskla XI: Shust, Perduta, Dallku, Chesnakov, Artur, Rebenok, Sharpar, Sklyar, Sapay, Kulach, Kolomoets.

VORSKLA 0-3 ARSENAL | SMITH ROWE (10), RAMSEY (25), WILLOCK (41)

  • Unai Emery selects youthful starting XI – Aaron Ramsey start
  • Emile Smith Rowe opens the scoring inside 10 minutes
  • Aaron Ramsey converts penalty having been brought down
  • Joe Willock scores fine solo effort

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: GETTY)

VORSKLA 0-3 ARSENAL

FT: And there you have it. Arsenal have won their group with a game to spare. The youngster played well – especially Joe Willock who gets my MOTM award.

93: Just not happening for Eddie Nketiah tonight, who once again sneaks into a dangerous position inside the penalty area before spinning and curling wide.

90: Four minutes of injury time. No idea why we’re bothering.

89: Just a quick reminder before we finish that I’ll be moving over to Stamford Bridge immediately after this game finishes to bring you LIVE updates of another dead-rubber Europa League clash. If that doesn’t entice you I don’t know what will.

86: Joe Willock looks to have taken one to the chops tonight. He trots off the field to receive a bit of medical attention. Can we have one last goal please? This has been a tough second-half watch.

Willock back on the field.

83: Eddie Nketiah is really punishing these tiring Vorskla players. He twists and turns before driving into the penalty area and sending a fierce effort wide.

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

80: Artur nips beyond Lichtsteiner before sending a teasing low cross into the penalty area that Careca nor Perduta can punish. It’s cleared.

77: Third and final change for Arsenal as 19-year-old Charlie Gilmour replaces Guendouzi.

74: Bukayo Saka is rapid. He leaves an unnamed Vorskla Poltava player for dead before firing a left-footed effort at Bohdan Shust.

71: Oh hello, Petr. Cech has barely touched the ball tonight but he’s called into action to make a smart save from Igor Perduta.

Emile Smith-Rowe has another decent effort tipped wide.

68: Debutant klaxon! Another Arsenal youngster arrives to make his debut. This time It’s the turn of 17-year-old Bukayo Saka, who comes on for Aaron Ramsey.

65: GOALLLFFSIDEEEE! What a rollercoaster of emotions for Emile Smith Rowe. The teenager bundles in his second of the evening but he doesn’t know much about it. He looks stunned, smiles and then frowns as the flag was up for offside.

62: Now who’s this youngster then? Arsenal make their first change of the evening as 17-year-old centre-back from Greenwich Zech Medley makes his senior debut. Go get ‘em!

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: PA)

60: Incidentally, AC Milan are losing at home to Luxembourg side Luxembourg. The visitor were 50/1 to win tonight.

57: Dallku thinks he’s Lionel Messi when deciding to half-volley a Holding clearance from 25 yards… Let’s just say Petr Cech wasn’t troubled.

54: Eddie Nketiah nearly gets his name on the scoresheet when Joe Willock slips him through but Vorskla goalkeeper Shust shuts him out.

51: Vorskla have given up pressing Arsenal high up the field. They look content to settle for a mildly respectable 3-0 defeat.

48: I’m hearing that Arsenal have taken 800 fans to the Ukraine this evening. I mean… well done guys, but all that way on a school night?!

VORSKLA 0-3 ARSENAL

45: And we’re back underway for those hardy souls still reading this. I certainly wouldn’t if I was an Arsenal supporter… No changes at the break.

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

Twitter round-up

Kenny: Another England player. We have a great future at Arsenal and Joe Willock is the best!

Wig: We are playing our B team and still winning 3-0 before half time… #StrengthInDepth

Alan: That was lovely from Willock. Don’t want to get carried away but wouldn’t it be great if Emery can mix success with homegrown talent coming through, like George Graham did.

VORSKLA 0-3 ARSENAL

HT: Change of venue, freezing temperatures, youthful squad… none of it has affected Arsenal, who have themselves a commanding advantage over a toothless Vorskla.

There was finally good news for Rodgers, too, as James Forrest turned his marker inside out before standing a ball up to Scott Sinclair at the far post and the winger made no mistake with a simple header to open up a crucial lead.

44: I’m sensing a red card for Vorskla tonight. They are throwing their toys out of the pram in frustration and committing some pretty nasty fouls.

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

VORSKLA 0-3 ARSENAL | WILLOCK

41: Did I just mention how well Joe Willock was playing? The 19-year-old adds a terrific third in style.

Willock advances down the left and bends an inch-perfect effort into the corner. Future looks bright for the Gunners.

40: I know It’s a fairly meaningless match but this Arsenal side really have played well tonight. Joe Willock looks especially calm and composed.

37: Since the re-branding of the competition in 2009/10, no Arsenal player has scored (5) or been directly involved (6) in more Europa League goals than Aaron Ramsey.

36: A few of these Arsenal substitutes look like a dance troop on the sidelines when stretching vigorously to keep warm. Not a lot else to do in fairness.

34: Not very sharp from Vorskla midfielder Sharpar… he’s left a trailing leg in on Joe Willock and receives a booking for his troubles.

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

32: Shall we bother continuing tonight? We are expecting temperatures of -12C by half time and a kick to anyone’s inside thigh could be fatal.

29: Skliar is clearly frustrated and cynically brings Smith Rowe down. Booked.

VORSKLA 0-2 ARSENAL | RAMSEY

26: The Vorskla players protest with the referee about Aaron Ramsey’s staggered run-up but the Welshman’s cooly converted penalty stands.

The Gunners in cruise control and will almost certainly be extending their unbeaten run to 18 games.

PENALTY TO ARSENAL

25: My initial reaction to this penalty decision is extremely dubious to say the least.

Aaron Ramsey slaloms around inside the penalty area before a clumsy Perduta brings him down with a bodycheck. I guess anywhere else on the pitch it would be considered a foul.

22: For those asking (one very on-the-ball person), I can’t change the top picture because there’s somethings wrong with our system today. A somewhat worried looking Unai Emery will have to suffice I’m afraid.

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

19: If Aaron Ramsey was looking to make a point with that free-kick, then he’s failed miserably. The Welshman pulls rank and promptly sends it miles over the crossbar.

16: Oh would you look at that! Qarabag have equalised against Sporting Lisbon over in Azerbaijan. It’s 1-1. Celtic are still goalless in their must-win clash against Rosenborg.

13: Emile Smith-Rowe has scored in three of his last four appearances for Arsenal in all competitions, with two of those coming in the Europa League. . Perhaps a cameo role against Tottenham on Saturday? He’s one of their own…

VORSKLA 0-1 ARSENAL | SMITH ROWE

10: He’s a serious talent this Emile Smith Rowe, and he’s grabbed his third goal of the season tonight.

Perfect start for the Gunners as 18-year-old Smith Rowe slots home from inside the area after some good interplay between Aaron Ramsey and Joe Willock.

If things stay like this, Arsenal will win the group with a game to spare.

9: Sporting are leading Qarabag 1-0 thanks to a penalty from Bast Dos. That leaves Vorskla Poltava and Qarabag eliminated from the Europa League. It also means Arsenal can still be caught for top position.

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

8: Close! Petr Cech nearly spills Chesnakov’s ambitious volley from the edge of the penalty area but quickly recovers. Remember, Arsenal are still on a 17-game unbeaten run that they’d rather not lose on a cold Thursday night in Ukraine.

5: Don’t worry, folks. I’ll be conducting an Eddie Nketiah watch this evening and give you the full report on the teenager. The current status of Eddie is that he’s not touched the ball…

3: Vorskla are looking to press this higgledy-piggledy Arsenal starting XI high up the field and win a free-kick. Kolomoets is in acres of space at the near post but blasts it into orbit.

VORSKLA 0-0 ARSENAL

1: I think I’ve got a good chance of counting the attendance throughout the evening. Can’t be more than 1000 people inside this vast stadium. Although, the seats are mixed colour so It’s difficult to tell. Wish me luck.

Oh, and we’re underway.

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

‘Important’

17:50: Arsenal manager Unai Emery: “This is one title, this is one way for us to reach the Champions League. For us it is important. We want to give chances to players, and they can show how they can help us in other matches. We are thinking only of winning today.”

Stay warm!

17:45: As if tonight’s clash couldn’t be any less attractive – Olympic Stadium in Kiev are expecting temperatures of -12C by half time. Enjoy that one…

Twitter round-up

Weston: Big night for Lewisham-born Eddie Nketiah! Wish you all the best on your first start for Arsenal. You got this!

Ore: Young team but I’m sure we will put in a performance. Come on Arsenal!

Tad: Bukayo Saka on the bench for Arsenal this evening. Wearing the 87 shirt. Must be our highest numbered player ever.

Permutations

17:35: Not that complicated really. Arsenal have already qualified from Group E, and will secure top position with a win in Ukraine.

Sporting will be through if they win at Qarabag, or if they draw and Vorskla do not beat Arsenal.

Qarabag must beat Sporting to keep their hopes alive.

Transfer news

17:30: OK, well I’ve exhausted everything I have to say about tonight’s match – so here’s a bit of dodgy transfer news I saw earlier.

Arsenal star Aaron Ramsey has been issued a deadline to commit his long-term future to Juventus.

That’s according to The Sun, who claim Juventus want to agree terms with the Welsh international because of PSG star Adrien Rabiot.

Wales international Ramsey will leave the Emirates next summer when his contract expires.

Juventus are keen on signing the 27-year-old on a free transfer, but with Rabiot also available with plenty of suitors interested – the Italy champions want Ramsey to sign a pre-contract agreement in January.

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

Twitter round-up

Jon: Bench tonight is a fitting punishment for Henrikh Mkhitaryan after his performance at Bournemouth…

Matt: Aaron Ramsey looking around the dressing room like…

Roy: Looking forward to seeing what this team can do and especially Eddie Nketiah from the get go!

I didn’t realise this special bond between Arsenal supporters and Eddie Nketiah was so strong. Quite touching, actually.

Elsewhere…

17:15: Celtic take on Norwegian champions Rosenborg in the Europa League in Trondheim.

The Hoops are in third place in Group B, on six points along with RB Leipzig, with Salzburg at the top with four wins out of four.

Brendan Rodgers’ side are looking for another win over bottom club Rosenborg to keep their hopes of progressing alive.

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

Unai understands…

17:10: Arsenal boss Unai Emery was very diplomatic and professional about the whole situation during his pre-match press conference. What else would you expect?

“First, we need to respect UEFA’s decision because I think it’s not easy for Vorskla,” Emery said. “For us yesterday we were preparing the first trip to Poltava and waiting in the evening for the last decision.

“It’s not changing a lot to play here. In 90 minutes it is not a very big change. It is clear they are playing in Ukraine, not in their town, but here in Kiev they can also move their supporters.

“In 90 minutes we want to do our work here.

“The decision is not easy but with big responsibility. UEFA yesterday found the best decision to play and also with protecting everybody, us and them.

“We were waiting for this decision but with respect. The travel changed but Kiev also has lot of possibility for us and most important for supporters – we just want to play and win and show every supporter from London to do well.”

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

Major inconvenience

17:05: You can say that again!

Around 500 Arsenal supporters were due in Ukraine and some had already travelled to Poltava ahead of the match – meaning they were left with a long journey across Ukraine if they wished to take in the fixture.

Some of a small group of Arsenal support staff were also already in Poltava before UEFA’s decision, while the Gunners’ plane carrying them to Kiev had technical difficulties which meant their pre-match press conference was delayed by 90 minutes.

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: GETTY)

Reliable

17:00: No side has kept more clean sheets than Arsenal in the Europa League this season (3), only Slavia Prague and Chelsea (1) have conceded fewer goals than the Gunners (2).

We’ve got a game…

16:55: You’ve all heard about the change of venue and threat of cancellation but tonight’s clash WILL go ahead.

The build-up to the game has been overshadowed by the confusion over where it might take place, with the governing body announcing on Tuesday evening that the match had been moved from Poltava to the capital, 185 miles away, because of safety concerns after martial law was declared in some regions of Ukraine.

Vorskla themselves then made some suggestions the game would not go ahead.

But UEFA has now confirmed that the Group E match will be played in Kiev as planned

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

Twitter round-up

Sam: First ever Arsenal start for Eddie Nketiah tonight. Joe Willock also making his first senior appearance of the season.

Jordan: Class to see Eddie getting his chance up top tonight… been brilliant at all levels for Arsenal, now time to step up!

Sonny: Come on Arsenal, hope Eddie Nketiah takes his chance tonight, he’s been waiting a long time for it!

Team news

16:45: Errrr, well It’s certainly an inexperienced side that Unai Emery has selected for tonight’s bout.

Arsenal handed a first start to teenage striker Eddie Nketiah as Unai Emery made 10 changes for their Europa League clash against Vorskla Poltava in Kiev.

The Group E fixture was moved 185 miles east of Poltava to the capital’s Olympic Stadium with parts of Ukraine under martial law as political tensions continue to rise.

Only Rob Holding kept his place from Sunday’s Premier League win at Bournemouth as 19-year-old Nketiah led the line with fellow academy graduate Joe Willock also given a rare chance to impress.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles was also included for his first start since the opening day of the season, while Petr Cech returned in goal to captain the Gunners.

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

The starting XI…

16:40: Unai Emery making the most of his ability to rest all of his players ahead of Sunday’s north London derby. Spurs didn’t have that luxury against Inter Milan yesterday.

Contract rebel Aaron Ramsey hung out to dry with the kids in Ukraine.

Vorskla XI: Shust, Perduta, Dallku, Chesnakov, Artur, Rebenok, Sharpar, Sklyar, Sapay, Kulach, Kolomoets.

Subs: Chyzhov, Kane, Careca, Mysyk, Sakiv, Sergiuchuk, Tkachenko.

Arsenal XI: Cech, Lichtsteiner, Jenkinson, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Elneny, Willock, Ramsey, Smith Rowe, Nketiah.

Subs: Gilmour, John-Jules, Martinez, Medley, Mkhitaryan, Osei-Tutu, Saka.

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: REUTERS)

Afternoon

16:35: Hello everyone and welcome to our LIVE coverage of the Europa League.

This whole darkness at 4:30pm thing is really starting to get annoying isn’t it? Luckily we have almost meaningful Thursday evening football to enjoy…

Arsenal have already qualified for the knockout stages of the competition with two games to spare – but they still have to win Group E.

A victory over Ukrainian powerhouse Vorskla Poltava will ensure Unai Emery’s side top their group.

Ready for the team news and line-ups?

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: GETTY)

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates

Vorskla vs Arsenal: Europa League LIVE score, goals and updates (Image: PA)

Venue change…

UEFA says it is working with the Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU) to make sure Arsenal’s rearranged Europa League fixture against Vorskla Poltava goes ahead in Kiev on Thursday.

The venue for the Group E clash was switched to Kiev from the Stadion Vorskla in Poltava – around 185 miles (300 kilometres) east of the Ukrainian capital – after martial law was declared in some regions of the country.

UEFA has apologised to both sets of supporters for the inconvenience of the switch – which was announced on Tuesday evening – and says it will send senior security experts to assess the situation in Ukraine.

A UEFA statement said: “On 26 November 2018 a state of martial law was declared by the national government in respect of specific areas of Ukraine.

“As a result of this exceptional measure, UEFA had to review – as a matter of urgency – the potential impact on the staging of the UEFA Europa League match between FC Vorskla and Arsenal FC on 29 November.

“The urgent decision of UEFA to relocate the match to Kyiv was based on the sudden introduction of martial law and the uncertainty of the security situation in some parts of Ukraine and particularly given the extremely short timescale available to evaluate all existing risks.

“UEFA is now working closely with the Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU) to ensure that the match goes ahead in the Olympiskiy stadium in Kyiv tomorrow. This decision concerns the match FC Vorskla and Arsenal FC.”


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