Arsenal 6-0 Lens: Gunners win Champions League group with first-half rout

29 November 2023 0 By Total Football News

By Emma SmithBBC Sport

Kai HavertzKai Havertz scored for the first time in the Champions League this season when he beat Brice Samba to the ball in the 13th minute

Arsenal reached the Champions League knockouts as group winners by thumping Lens at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners scored five in a phenomenal first-half display as they reach the last 16 in their first appearance in the competition for seven years.

Kai Havertz, Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard all scored in the first half, before Jorginho added a late penalty.

Arsenal progress from Group B alongside PSV Eindhoven, with Lens out.

"I didn't even dream like this," Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said. "The team from the beginning showed a lot of aggression and determination to go for the game.

"Everything happened in the right way in the first 30 minutes. That was really helpful to win the game."

Arsenal 6-0 Lens: 'I didn't even dream like this'

Havertz, brought into the starting XI after scoring the winner against Brentford at the weekend, opened the scoring on 13 minutes when Lens failed to clear a looping ball into the box. Jesus nodded across goal and Havertz showed a striker's instinct to finish from close range ahead of goalkeeper Brice Samba.

"Scoring goals, playing well, participating in wins - those are positive attributes," Arteta said of Havertz's performance. "You saw the reception of his team-mates and the crowd being with him, singing his name. He's a tremendous player."

Jesus turned scorer to slot the second past Samba from 15 yards, sweeping home after being set up by Saka's powerful run between defenders from the right.

Arsenal's attacking unit was in full flow, illustrated by Saka taking his turn to move from provider to scorer just two minutes and 20 seconds later, steering the ball home after Samba saved from Martinelli.

Brazil winger Martinelli would not be denied and scored the best of the lot on 27 minutes, finding the far bottom corner after cutting inside from the left.

The fifth came in first-half stoppage time, Odegaard perfectly timing a volley from 12 yards following Takehiro Tomiyasu's excellent cross.

Arsenal are the first side in Champions League history to have five different scorers in the first half of a match.

A more sedate second half followed, before Jorginho added a sixth from the spot following a handball by Abduqodir Khusanov.

Irresistible Arsenal power into last 16

It had appeared, around half an hour before kick-off, that Arsenal would progress to the last 16 without kicking a ball - only for PSV's remarkable comeback at Sevilla to force them to earn their knockout place on the field.

Mikel Arteta's side started this match as if annoyed at the inconvenience of having to do the job themselves, and wanting to get it done as swiftly as possible.

Through the smoke from pyrotechnics smuggled in by Lens fans, Arsenal were irresistible in the first half and particularly when scoring three in seven minutes.

They also played like they had a score to settle with Lens, a team they had not beaten in three previous Champions League games including the reverse fixture in Group B, which the French side won 2-1.

"Defeats give you a lot of things to think about and take the learnings from," Arteta said. "Credit to them, they are a really good side who are extremely well coached and make life very difficult for you but today we were very effective."

Saka, on the fifth anniversary of his senior Arsenal debut, was particularly redoubtable despite being frequently fouled.

His assist for the second goal was his fourth in five Champions League games. No Arsenal player has previously set up more than three in a single campaign.

The early onslaught appeared to put the record Champions League victory margin under threat - set by Liverpool and Real Madrid with 8-0 victories over Besiktas and Malmo respectively - however Lens avoided that indignity and will still reach the Europa League if they avoid defeat to Sevilla on 12 December.

Analysis - 'Really ruthless, really clinical'

Former Premier League striker Chris Sutton, speaking on BBC 5 Live

An outstanding display from Mikel Arteta's team. They started the game strongly and got the first goal, then went from strength to strength. They eased off in the second half but it's job done.

They have so many talented players. Martinelli and Saka were helped by some really weak defending from Lens, but Arsenal were really ruthless, really clinical. Odegaard missed a couple of games, his importance to the team in the final third, his awareness, his vision, his ability to slide a ball. You know what you are going to get from Jesus in terms of tenacity but he took his goal well. They look like a really well-balanced team.

Arteta has set very high standards at Arsenal. They are now playing where the stakes are really high because they want to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League, which they did last season but they fell away. In the Champions League they want to show they can compete and go all the way.

How do they go about that? How are they going to win the Champions League? By maintaining that level all the way through, which isn't going to be easy.

Line-ups

Arsenal

Formation 4-3-3

  • 22Raya
  • 18TomiyasuSubstituted forWhiteat 45'minutes
  • 2Saliba
  • 6Gabriel
  • 35ZinchenkoSubstituted forKiwiorat 45'minutes
  • 8Ødegaard
  • 41RiceSubstituted forJorginhoat 75'minutes
  • 29Havertz
  • 7SakaSubstituted forNelsonat 66'minutes
  • 9Gabriel JesusSubstituted forNketiahat 82'minutes
  • 11Martinelli

Substitutes

  • 1Ramsdale
  • 4White
  • 14Nketiah
  • 15Kiwior
  • 17Cédric Soares
  • 19Trossard
  • 20Jorginho
  • 24Nelson
  • 25Elneny
  • 31Hein
  • 59Lewis-Skelly
  • 63Nwaneri

Lens

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 30Samba
  • 24GraditSubstituted forKhusanovat 62'minutesBooked at 63mins
  • 4Danso
  • 14MedinaSubstituted forMachadoat 45'minutes
  • 29Frankowski
  • 26MendyBooked at 41minsSubstituted forPereira da Costaat 76'minutes
  • 6Abdul SamedSubstituted forEl Aynaouiat 45'minutes
  • 21HaïdaraBooked at 64mins
  • 7SotocaSubstituted forThomassonat 45'minutes
  • 11Fulgini
  • 9Wahi

Substitutes

  • 2Aguilar
  • 3Machado
  • 10Pereira da Costa
  • 16Leca
  • 18Diouf
  • 20Maouassa
  • 22Saïd
  • 23El Aynaoui
  • 25Khusanov
  • 28Thomasson
  • 40Pandor
Referee:
Artur Manuel Soares Dias
Attendance:
59,987

Match Stats

Live Text

Match ends, Arsenal 6, Lens 0.

Second Half ends, Arsenal 6, Lens 0.


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