Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Saka Sets Goal Standard as Gunners Go Through

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Saka Sets Goal Standard as Gunners Go Through

Article excerpt

STANDARD LIEGE2 ARSENAL2 BUKAYO Saka provided the inspiration as Arsenal fought back from two goals down to earn a draw at Standard Liege and qualify for the Europa League knockout stage.

For some time, the Gunners looked to have been slipping down to second place in Group F but a 2-2 scoreline, coupled with Eintracht Frankfurt's home defeat to Vitoria, meant they avoided the likes of Ajax and Inter Milan in the last-32 draw on Monday.

Samuel Bastien and Selim Amallah both scored from deflected secondhalf efforts for the Belgian side only for Saka to cross for Alexandre Lacazette to head in before netting the equaliser himself.

It remains to be seen if interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg will be in charge when the competition returns in the new year but his decision to make nine changes this time out looked like it could have backfired at stages.

Lacazette looked leggy as he returned to captain the visitors, who ended a nine-match winless run at West Ham on Monday before returning to the habit here.

The defence is something that clearly needs addressing as Arsenal once again failed to keep a clean sheet, extending that particular streak to 13 matches and equalling the worst run of Arsene Wenger's reign.

Arsenal were guilty of misplaced passes on numerous occasions in the opening exchanges, with Konstantinos Mavropanos - making his first appearance since May - lucky to not gift Standard the lead as he gave the ball straight to Mehdi Carcela on the edge of his own box, only for the winger to shoot at Emiliano Martinez.

At least Ljungberg's attacking talent seemed up for the task at hand, Emile Smith Rowe heavily involved early on and testing Arnaud Bodart in the Liege goal with a low strike. Most of the play in the remainder of the first half was as poor as the surface underneath the feet of the players. …

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