Match ends, SK Rapid Wien 1, Arsenal 2.
Substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the winner as Arsenal came from behind to win at Rapid Vienna in their Europa League Group B opener.
The hosts had taken the lead early in the second half when they capitalised on an error by Bernd Leno – who was poor throughout – with the goalkeeper’s attempted pass intercepted by Taxiarchis Fountas, who then fired home from a tight angle.
Another error by Leno almost gifted the Austrians a second when he hit a clearance straight at Fountas but he was able to recover and parry the striker’s effort.
Arsenal, who gave a full debut to £45m summer signing Thomas Partey, lacked quality in the final third as they struggled to open up the hosts but found their bite when Aubameyang came off the bench.
David Luiz put Arsenal level when he headed in Nicolas Pepe’s free-kick and Aubameyang secured the win when he tapped in from Hector Bellerin’s excellent assist.
Leno still looked nervous dealing with passes back to him and another poor clearance hit Luiz and deflected to Fountas, but this time Rapid Vienna’s top scorer could not capitalise.
But that was the only scare in the closing stages as Arsenal kicked off their European campaign with an away win.
Arsenal’s Partey superb in Vienna
For a long time in this game, the performance of Partey was the only highlight.
The deadline day signing had made a cameo appearance in the 1-0 defeat at Manchester City last Saturday but this was the former Atletico Madrid midfielder’s first chance to really show what he can do, and his performance was superb.
The Ghana international oozed class and made everything he did look effortless, breaking up play with well-timed tackles, getting the ball forward with calm and accurate passes and being alert to any danger posed by the hosts.
Partey made a particularly crucial intervention in the first half when he prodded the ball from under the feet of Fountas as the Rapid Vienna forward was about to shoot.
“He is a key ingredient of what Arsenal have been missing for years,” former England and Chelsea winger Karen Carney said on BT Sport.
“He has a knack of breaking up play and keeping the momentum going. He is pure class. He is versatile and tactically astute, gives more balance and is technically very good.
“He is brilliant and Arsenal fans will be overjoyed to see him in this team.”
Without his contribution in an otherwise lacklustre first half from Arsenal it could have got a lot worse for the Gunners before they finally got going.
Luiz oldest since Campbell – the stats
- Arsenal have won their opening group game in each of the past four Europa League campaigns.
- This was Rapid Vienna’s first home defeat in the group stages of the Europa League since October 2012, ending their 13-game unbeaten run on home soil in the group stages of the competition.
- Since the start of the 2018-19 season, only Jordan Pickford (11) and David de Gea (nine) have made more errors leading to goals among Premier League goalkeepers in all competitions than Arsenal’s Bernd Leno (eight).
- David Luiz (33 years add 183 days) made his 50th appearance for Arsenal in all competitions and became the oldest player to score for the Gunners in major European competition since Sol Campbell against FC Porto in the Champions League back in February 2010 (35 years and 152 days).
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored 12 goals in 19 Europa League appearances for Arsenal.
- Hector Bellerin has provided three assists in his last three games for Arsenal, more than he had in his previous 38 matches for the Gunners (two).
- Thomas Partey became the first Ghanaian to start a competitive game for Arsenal since Emmanuel Frimpong in their 7-5 victory at Reading in October 2012.
Arsenal return to Premier League action on Sunday, 25 October (19:15 BST) when they host Leicester City.
- 36AraseBooked at 60minsSubstituted forSchickat 79′minutes
- 14GrahovacBooked at 15mins
- 8RitzmaierBooked at 69minsSubstituted forKnasmüllnerat 88′minutes
- 29KaraBooked at 63minsSubstituted forKitagawaat 76′minutes
- 1LenoBooked at 90mins
- 17Cédric SoaresSubstituted forBellerínat 61′minutes
- 23David Luiz
- 6dos Santos Magalhães
- 18ParteyBooked at 34mins
- 7SakaSubstituted forTierneyat 84′minutes
- 19PépéSubstituted forNelsonat 90+4′minutes
- 9LacazetteBooked at 27minsSubstituted forWillockat 84′minutes
- 30NketiahBooked at 37minsSubstituted forAubameyangat 61′minutes
Second Half ends, SK Rapid Wien 1, Arsenal 2.
Substitution, Arsenal. Reiss Nelson replaces Nicolas Pépé.
Offside, SK Rapid Wien. Filip Stojkovic tries a through ball, but Thorsten Schick is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left misses to the left. Assisted by Nicolas Pépé with a cross.
Bernd Leno (Arsenal) is shown the yellow card.
Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Thorsten Schick (SK Rapid Wien).
Substitution, SK Rapid Wien. Christoph Knasmüllner replaces Marcel Ritzmaier.
Foul by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal).
Maximilian Hofmann (SK Rapid Wien) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. David Luiz (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Nicolas Pépé with a cross.
Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Maximilian Hofmann.
Substitution, Arsenal. Joseph Willock replaces Alexandre Lacazette.
Substitution, Arsenal. Kieran Tierney replaces Bukayo Saka.
David Luiz (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Marcel Ritzmaier (SK Rapid Wien).
Attempt blocked. Marcel Ritzmaier (SK Rapid Wien) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.
Attempt missed. Nicolas Pépé (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.
Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal) wins a free kick on the left wing.