Arsenal edge PSV 1-0 in Europa League thanks to Xhaka’s goal at Emirates Stadium
Arsenal secured a spot in the Europa League knockout round after Granit Xhaka’s second-half goal was enough to earn a 1-0 win over PSV Eindhoven on Thursday that maintained the Gunners’ perfect record in the competition.
Xhaka’s well-struck volley in the 71st minute was the breakthrough Arsenal sought after failing to convert a number of chances thanks to a combination of wasteful finishing and good saves from goalkeeper Walter Benitez.
Arsenal is assured of one of the top two spots in Group A with a maximum 12 points from four games — and two rounds left to play. Second-place PSV has seven points.
The result leaves Mikel Arteta’s side five points clear at the top of Group A after they maintained their 100% record.
It was also the Gunners’ eighth successive victory in all competitions and they more than merited it in the rearranged contest that was originally scheduled to be played on 15 September but was postponed because of “severe limitations on police resources” following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Gabriel Jesus and Bukayo Saka had the pick of Arsenal’s opportunities but some errant finishing and the performance of PSV’s Argentine goalkeeper Walter Benitez made for a nervy evening.
However, Swiss international Xhaka drove a low effort into the bottom left corner from Takehiro Tomiyasu’s cross to finally break the visitor’s resistance.
Arsenal will confirm their progression to the knockout stage as group .
The match was originally scheduled to be played last month but was postponed in the wake of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, with Arsenal’s Premier League game against Manchester City pushed back to make room for this game — the only European match played Thursday.
Arsenal, which has now won 13 of 14 matches in all competitions this season, controlled most of the game but struggled to create quality chances in the first half. Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah had the best opportunities but both failed to make contact with crosses into the box.
Benitez then frustrated the hosts in the second half, first saving a toe-poked effort from Bukayo Saka on a quick counterattack and then getting down low to palm away a left-footed shot from Jesus from the edge of the area.
Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner, meanwhile, didn’t have a save to make until the 68th, when he collected a low shot from Xavi Simons from the right side of the area.
Xhaka then broke the deadlock when he met a cross from right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu with a first-time volley that took a bounce on the way inside the near post to beat the diving Benitez.
Saka nearly doubled the lead right after restart but drew another good save from Benitez, who also denied substitute Gabriel Martinelli’s fierce shot from a tight angle in the 79th.
PSV winger Cody Gakpo, who has nine goals and seven assists in 10 Dutch league games this season, was kept quiet throughout by Tomiyasu.