Europa League - Group E
Arsenal1FK Qarabag0

Europa League: Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny returns in easy 1-0 win over Qarabag

Alexandre Lacazette
Lacazette's finish was the only real moment of excitement

Laurent Koscielny played for the first time since May as Arsenal completed their near-perfect Europa League group stage with an easy win over Qarabag.

Unai Emery's side had already qualified for the knockout round and go through as Group E winners, with five victories and one draw from their six matches.

Alexandre Lacazette scored the only goal of a tame match with a slick 16th-minute winner from Mesut Ozil's pass.

After the break, Eddie Nketiah had a headed goal ruled out for offside.

And in the 89th-minute, 17-year-old winger Bukayo Saka missed a chance to become Arsenal's youngest goalscorer in Europe as he smashed a finish into the face of Qarabag goalkeeper Vagner.

Koscielny, 33, ruptured his Achilles in last season's semi-finals defeat by Atletico Madrid.

He had very little work to do against Qarabag, who only went close when Donald Guerrier headed over, before being replaced in the 72nd minute.

Victory extends Arsenal's unbeaten run into a 22nd match. It is their longest run without defeat in all competitions since a 28-game stretch that ended in November 2007.

As group winners, Arsenal will avoid the four best-placed teams teams dropping down from the Champions League in the draw for the last 32, which takes place on Monday at 12:00 GMT.

The first legs will be played on 14 February, with the return legs on 21 February. As a seeded team, Arsenal will play their second leg at home.

Koscielny: I've started a new chapter

Captain Koscielny's quiet night

Arsenal boss Unai Emery has been fielding teams with a blend of youth, experience and first-team fringe players during this European campaign and it was more of the same on Thursday.

Before a modest crowd, there was a first senior start for Saka, in front of club captain Koscielny and alongside Mohamed Elneny and Ozil in midfield.

Koscielny had already featured for Arsenal's under-23s on his road to recovery, in a 2-1 defeat by Portsmouth in the Checktrade Trophy on 4 December, when Saka scored the Gunners' goal.

Against a team who have now lost all six of their meetings with English sides by an aggregate score of 1-18, the French defender had little work to do.

Azeri champions over the past five years, Qarabag had no real attacking threat and made numerous mistakes in possession.

Koscielny made one tackle and two clearances, also finishing his match with a 100% pass success rate. The minutes he played will be of more significance, especially considering the recent injury to Rob Holding.

Ozil labours and creates, Saka shines

It was Ozil's first appearance since 11 November, having spent five games out with a back injury. He looked uncomfortable on occasion in the first half - twice appearing to struggle back to his feet after falling in a 50-50 challenge.

He was replaced in the 83rd minute, having created the goal and three other good chances. His four key passes were more than any Arsenal player has created in a single Europa League game.

Lacazette was perhaps the more surprising selection - given he has played a regular and prominent role for Emery in the Premier League so far this season.

His goal, taken with five smart touches and a zipping low finish, was the game's only true moment of quality, as Arsenal soon after assumed full control of an already sedate fixture now removed of any real jeopardy.

One of very few points of interest was the impact of the side's youth players, and perhaps the brightest showing came from Saka, who came alive in the second half especially.

Aside from Lacazette, he was the only player among both sides to have a shot on target, and it was his excellent cross that found Nketiah for the disallowed goal.

Man of the match - (Bukayo Saka)

Bukayo Saka
Saka had a total of three shots on target and also made one key pass

'His personality is important for us'

Arsenal manager Unai Emery: "We have the responsibility to give every young player chances, first to train with us and to be demanding with their performances.

"Saka played with a good performance, with a very big personality, his personality is very important for us to continue trying to go 1v1 and break lines with his quality.

"He played with a very big personality and sometimes with a very good performance. It's very important for his confidence and for us also, because we can look at this player and see quality to help us."

Gunners make it five without conceding - the stats you need to know

  • Arsenal are unbeaten in 22 games in all competitions (W17 D5 L0) last losing against Chelsea back in August - the Gunners longest unbeaten run since November 2007 (a club record 28 games).
  • Unai Emery has lost just one of his 24 UEFA Europa League group games in charge of Valencia, Sevilla and Arsenal combined (W14 D9) and is unbeaten in the competition group stages since his Sevilla side were beaten 0-2 against Feyenoord back in November 2014 (P7 W6 D1 L0 since).
  • Arsenal have gone five Europa League games without conceding a goal since MD1 against Vorskla Poltava - excluding qualifiers, the Gunners last went on a longer run of consecutive clean sheets in European competition during the 2005/06 campaign, keeping 10 straight shut outs on their way to the Champions League final.
  • FK Qarabag have lost all six of their meetings with English sides in all competitions, by an aggregate score of 1-18.
  • FK Qarabag have lost seven of their last eight games in the UEFA Europa League (W1).
  • Mesut Ozil created four chances in this game for the Gunners - no Arsenal player has created more in a single Europa League game this campaign.

What's next?

Arsenal next play in the Premier League away to Southampton in a 13:30 GMT kick-off on Sunday.

Next up for Qarabag is an Azerbaijan Cup quarter-final first leg with Inter Baku.

Line-ups

Arsenal

  • 26Martínez
  • 25Jenkinson
  • 5Papastathopoulos
  • 6KoscielnySubstituted forMonrealat 72'minutes
  • 15Maitland-Niles
  • 4Elneny
  • 59Willock
  • 49Nketiah
  • 10ÖzilSubstituted forGilmourat 83'minutes
  • 87Saka
  • 9LacazetteSubstituted forMedleyat 63'minutes

Substitutes

  • 7Mkhitaryan
  • 18Monreal
  • 29Guendouzi
  • 43Gilmour
  • 44Iliev
  • 47Medley
  • 72John-Jules

FK Qarabag

  • 13da Silva
  • 5Medvedev
  • 55Huseynov
  • 14Sadiqov
  • 52RzezniczakSubstituted forOzobicat 85'minutes
  • 77Guerrier
  • 8Marcos MaderaSubstituted forAbdullayevat 61'minutes
  • 2QarayevBooked at 82mins
  • 6Slavchev
  • 11MadatovSubstituted forQuintana Sosaat 75'minutes
  • 17Zoubir

Substitutes

  • 4Mammadov
  • 9Abdullayev
  • 10Quintana Sosa
  • 12Mahammadaliyev
  • 19Ozobic
  • 25Agolli
  • 91Diniyev
Referee:
Jens Maae

Match Stats

Home TeamArsenalAway TeamFK Qarabag
Possession
Home67%
Away33%
Shots
Home11
Away1
Shots on Target
Home4
Away0
Corners
Home10
Away4
Fouls
Home11
Away10

Live Text

Match ends, Arsenal 1, FK Qarabag 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Arsenal 1, FK Qarabag 0.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match (Arsenal).

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Wilde-Donald Guerrier.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Vagner (FK Qarabag) because of an injury.

Attempt saved. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Eddie Nketiah.

Substitution

Substitution, FK Qarabag. Filip Ozobic replaces Jakub Rzezniczak.

Foul by Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal).

Abdellah Zoubir (FK Qarabag) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Arsenal. Charlie Gilmour replaces Mesut Özil.

Foul by Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal).

Wilde-Donald Guerrier (FK Qarabag) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Booking

Qara Qarayev (FK Qarabag) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Qara Qarayev (FK Qarabag).

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) because of an injury.

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Maksim Medvedev (FK Qarabag).

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Maksim Medvedev (FK Qarabag).

Foul by Bukayo Saka (Arsenal).

Dani Quintana (FK Qarabag) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, Arsenal. Bukayo Saka tries a through ball, but Eddie Nketiah is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, FK Qarabag. Dani Quintana replaces Mahir Madatov.

Substitution

Substitution, Arsenal. Nacho Monreal replaces Laurent Koscielny.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Abdellah Zoubir (FK Qarabag).

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Vagner.

Attempt saved. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Joe Willock.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Jakub Rzezniczak.

Attempt blocked. Mesut Özil (Arsenal) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Bukayo Saka.

Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Maksim Medvedev.

Attempt blocked. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Substitution

Substitution, Arsenal. Zech Medley replaces Alexandre Lacazette.

Substitution

Substitution, FK Qarabag. Araz Abdullayev replaces Míchel.

Foul by Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal).

Mahir Madatov (FK Qarabag) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

goal

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Thursday 13th December 2018

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1B Leverkusen6411169713
2Zürich631276110
3AEK Larnaca6123612-65
4Ludogorets604257-24

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1RB Salzburg66001761118
2Celtic630368-29
3RB Leipzig62139817
4Rosenborg6015414-101

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Zenit St Petersburg632165111
2Slavia Prague631243110
3Bordeaux62136607
4FC Copenhagen612335-25

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Dinamo Zagreb6420113814
2Fenerbahçe62227708
3Spartak Trnava621347-37
4Anderlecht603327-53

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Arsenal65101221016
2Sporting64111331013
3Vorskla Poltava6105413-93
4FK Qarabag6105213-113

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Real Betis633072512
2Olympiakos6312116510
3AC Milan6312129310
4F91 Dudelange6015316-131

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Villarreal6240125710
2Rapid Vienna631269-310
3Rangers61328806
4Spartak Moscow6123812-45

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Frankfurt66001751218
2Lazio6303911-29
3Apollon Limassol6213101007
4Marseille6015616-101

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1KRC Genk6321148611
2Malmö FF62317619
3Besiktas6213911-27
4Sarpsborg 086123813-55

J

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Sevilla64021861212
2FK Krasnodar640288012
3Standard Liege631279-210
4Akhisarspor6015414-101

K

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Dynamo Kiev6321107311
2Rennes630378-19
3FC Astana62227708
4FK Jablonec612368-25

L

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Chelsea6510123916
2BATE Borisov63039909
3MOL Vidi621357-27
4PAOK Salonika6105512-73
View full Europa League tables

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