Arsenal 3-1 Cologne: Alexis Sanchez and Hector Bellerin rescue Arsene Wenger’s side as Gunners start Europa League journey despite delayed kick-off


Riot police and dog handlers with backs to the game, tasked with controlling the Cologne supporters, might have hoped for a solid Arsenal start to sedate the Germans.
Unfortunately, the security operation is worse on the pitch at the Emirates Stadium than it is off it.
Arsene Wenger’s team rarely play with a safety in mind and, true to form, they conceded carelessly, slipped behind and fuelled the bedlam on the wild night of disorder in North London.
They lurched and wobbled to the interval before regaining a grip with the help of an influential change by Wenger and a strong second-half display.
Sead Kolasinac, on at half-time, equalised and Alexis Sanchez fired Arsenal ahead with a delightful curling shot, his first goal since a summer of unrest, to settle the storm and clinch three points in Europa League Group H.
Hector Bellerin added the third in the closing minutes, a deserved goal after a strong display by the right-back, and the early madness was filed away under experience.
David Ospina will be relieved. The goalkeeper sparked trouble when he came wandering out of his goal in a doomed attempt to tidy up an early Cologne attack.
A scuffed clearance landed in a congested midfield and was nudged to Jhon Cordoba who assessed the danger in a flash, swivelled and fired the bouncing ball over the head of his fellow Colombian.
Ospina tried to backpedal but realised he was beaten and dropped helplessly onto his backside as Cordoba’s effort nestled into the net.
The Emirates Stadium erupted and the full penetration of Cologne support became abundantly clear.
There were hundreds of them in the top tier of the Clock End and pockets all around the ground, including some of the corporate seats.
Skirmishes broke out as Arsenal supporters took offence as they celebrated and called the away fans be ejected by stewards.
In section where the official away supporters were deployed, they bounced and sang and lit flares as UEFA delegate Roland Tis of Belgium sharpened his pencil.
It promises to be an interesting report and one which does not bode well for Arsenal as they are responsible for the home tickets and the safety of those at the game.
Cologne have been through rough times. They have passionate support and membership went up towards 100,000 as the crashed out of the Bundesliga in 2012.



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