Gabriel Martinelli scored two goals and set up another as a youthful Arsenal side turned on the style to thrash Standard Liege 4-0 in their Europa League Group F meeting at the Emirates Stadium.
Teenager Martinelli, a £6m signing from Brazilian side Ituano during the summer, opened the scoring with a superb header after 13 minutes and netted his second with a low, curling finish just three minutes later, making it four goals from two games following his double against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup.
Joe Willock hit Arsenal’s third with another curling finish (22) before Dani Ceballos completed the scoring in the second half when he poked a Martinelli cross over the line for his first goal for the club (57).
Arsenal: Martinez (7), Bellerin (7), Mustafi (7), Holding (7), Tierney (8), Torreira (7), Ceballos (8), Willock (8), Nelson (8), Maitland-Niles (7), Martinelli (9).
Subs: Pepe (6), Guendouzi (6), Aubameyang (6).
Standard Liege: Milinkovic-Savic (4), Vojvoda (5), Vanheusden (4), Laifis (5), Gavory (5), Boljevic (5), Bastien (5), Climirot (5), Lestienne (5), M’Poku (5), Edmond (5).
Subs: Carcela-Gonzalez (5), Amallah (5), Dovillabichus (5).
Man of the Match: Gabriel Martinelli
Unai Emery’s side missed a series of chances to extend their lead in the closing stages, but the victory is another significant step towards the Europa League knockout stages following the 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in their opening group game.
Arsenal were dominant right from the start, pushing the visitors back and directing most of their attacks down their left flank, where Kieran Tierney, making only his second appearance for the club following his £25m arrival from Celtic, produced a string of dangerous crosses.
It was from one such cross that Martinelli scored the opener, darting across his marker at the near post and glancing a superb header high into the net after Shkodran Mustafi’s cross-field pass had found its way to Tierney.
Arsenal’s next two goals came from the same area. For their second, Martinelli beat Standard Liege defender Zinho Vanheusden to a Reiss Nelson cut-back and controlled the ball smartly before shifting it onto his right foot and curling a low finish beyond the goalkeeper.
Willock volleyed another Tierney cross over the bar from close range soon after that, but the academy graduate did not have to wait long to add Arsenal’s third, controlling Nelson’s deflected shot and dispatching a composed finish into the corner for his third goal of the campaign.
Arsenal were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when Standard Liege goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic brought down Nelson shortly before half-time, but they were celebrating their fourth just 12 minutes after the break when Martinelli’s delicate centre was forced home by Ceballos.
Arsenal threatened more goals after that, with Martinelli going close to a hat-trick on a couple of occasions and Emery also sending on Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from the bench, but the visitors, who offered almost nothing going forward, just about held out.
Emery hails ‘fantastic’ victory
Arsenal manager Unai Emery: “To have six points after the two matches, it’s really important. We can take confidence. We were consistent over the 90 minutes and we can take a lot of positivity from tonight’s game.
“The players, when they did all they can like tonight, it is perfect. We did a lot of good, we can analyse to continue to improve. It’s a fantastic victory.”