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Arsenal, Man Utd win Europa opener

Arsenal, Man Utd win Europa opener
Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka in action during their Europa League match against Eintracht Frankfurt.
London, Sep 20 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 9/20/2019 12:22:37 PM IST

Teenage forward Bukayo Saka said it was a “dream come true” to score his first Arsenal goal as he helped inspire them to a convincing 3-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.

Making only his second senior start on Thursday, Saka troubled the German team’s defence with his pace and skill on the left wing and was rewarded for his effort when he found the net with a clinical finish from 20 yards in the 85th minute.

The England under-19 international also displayed his playmaking skills with two assists for goal scorers Joe Willock and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to cap a memorable night for the youngster. “I’m so happy to score for Arsenal,” the 18-year-old told reporters after the match. “It’s a dream come true - I have been dreaming of this moment since I was a kid. I just want to keep working hard to make sure I can feel this feeling again.”

Saka’s goal made him the youngest player to score for Arsenal in European competition since Oct. 2008, when a 17-year-old Aaron Ramsey found the net against Turkey’s Fenerbahce.

It was also a night to remember for another emerging English talent as 17-year-old Mason Greenwood became the first player born in the 2000s to score for Manchester United, in a 1-0 win over Kazakh champions Astana.

Saka was part of a lively attacking midfield alongside fellow academy graduates Willock, 20, and Emile Smith Rowe, 19. Arsenal manager Unai Emery was impressed with their display.

“Maybe with his (Saka’s) goal and performance, he was taking confidence. He was finishing really strong,” Emery said.

“After his injury, tonight he (Emile) played for the first time this season and he worked well. Willock started a little slow at the beginning but progressively he was feeling very better with a good performance.”

Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old striker Mason Greenwood scored his first senior Manchester United goal and saved his side’s blushes in a 1-0 win over Kazakhstan’s Astana in their Europa League Group L opener at Old Trafford on Thursday.

The prodigy slotted home through the keeper’s legs at the near post in the 73rd minute to make history in only his second start as the first player born in the 2000s to score a senior goal for the club.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s youthful line-up had earlier struggled to dominate their weakest opponents in the group despite having plenty of possession.

United made nine changes to the side that started against Leicester City in the Premier League last weekend, with Nemanja Matic taking the captain’s role in the absence of Ashley Young and goalkeeper David De Gea.

They came close to scoring after three minutes when Fred’s powerful long-distance strike from smacked off the top of the crossbar.

Marcus Rashford missed another great chance 10 minutes later with a close-range shot straight at the goalkeeper.

While he partnered 21-year-old regular Rashford up front, teenagers Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong made their full debuts before being replaced by Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard respectively.

Lingard hit the post in the 80th minute and Diogo Dalot missed a sitter in front of 50,000 fans as United raised the tempo after going ahead but still looked short of creativity.

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