Folarin Balogun scored his first senior goal as Arsenal sealed qualification for the Europa League knockout stages by beating Molde 3-0.

Arsenal went into the game having won all three of their previous games in the group stage. One more would guarantee their place in the knockout stages with two games to spare.

Alexandre Lacazette led the team out as captain, with Nicolas Pepe keeping his place in attack despite being sent off in their last Premier League game.

There was also a start for Runar Alex Runarsson in goal, while David Luiz returned to the lineup.

Runarsson had to be alert early on, as he got hold of the ball after a wasted chance from Sheriff Sinyan. The Molde man should have done much better, as the goal was gaping wide open, but he couldn’t convert the ball in the right direction as he slid in at the far-post.

It was a let-off for Arsenal, but the Gunners tried to respond in the right way. Pepe went on a weaving run before curling a shot wide in their next chance at the other end.

Arsenal kept pushing before the break, with Reiss Nelson often involved. He fired one shot over from outside the box towards the end of the half.

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Arsenal make strong start to second half

While Arsenal went in at the break frustrated, they would emerge from it strongly.

They took the lead in the 50th minute, as Pepe – one minute after hitting the bar – finally got the goal his performance had been threatening.

Latching on to a cross from Joe Willock, Pepe fired home with his left foot to put Arsenal ahead.

The lead was doubled five minutes later, with Willock the provider again. This time it was Nelson who got on the end of it, finishing from close range to make it 2-0.

As Arsenal continued to see through the rest of the game comfortably, Mikel Arteta brought on Emile Smith Rowe. He then sent on Folarin Balogun for just his second senior appearance.

It took the youngsters no time at all to make an impact, as they combined for the third goal. After being set up by Smith Rowe, Balogun, with his first involvement, turned and finished with his right foot.

It capped off a positive second half display for the Gunners, who move on to 12 points in their group. It is a tally that sees them through into the next round.


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Source: Football – TeamTalk