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Europa League: Arsenal, Napoli win; Leverkusen upset

Arsenal - Dundalk

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Joe Willock of Arsenal (R) celebrates with Mohamed Elneny of Arsenal after scoring their 2nd goal during the UEFA Europa League Group B stage match between Arsenal FC and Dundalk FC at Emirates Stadium on October 29, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

Offside via Getty Images

The 4 pm ET Thursday kickoffs of the Europa League group stage provided fewer goals and some tight, tight results to go with a notable upset.

Bayer Leverkusen fell to Slavia Prague thanks to an early red card and a late goal, while PSV Eindhoven dodged a terrible upset in Cyprus.

[ UEL EARLY: Spurs upset, Leicester wins ]

Meanwhile, Arsenal took a while to score but had little trouble with Dundalk, handing debuts to goalkeeper Alex Runnarsson and U.S. U-18 and England U-20 striker Folarin Balogun.

Arsenal 3-0 Dundalk

Credit to Dundalk for the effort, but there was only one way this match was going to end.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners were heavy favorites at home and needed to answer the bell after a nervy 2-1 defeat of Rapid Vienna came sandwiched around dreary 1-0 losses to Man City and Leicester City.

Even with heavy changes, there’s no chance Arsenal would fail to deliver a winning performance against the Republic of Ireland side.

The Gunners took a little while to get going but scored in the 42nd (Eddie Nketiah), 44th (Joe Willock), and 46th (Nicolas Pepe) minutes to cruise to six points through two match days.

Fall signing Alex Runarsson made his first Arsenal start between the sticks and kept a clean sheet, called upon for just one save.

U.S. eligible England U-20 forward Folarin Balogun made his senior debut for the Gunners with 16 minutes to play in North London.

Molde 1-0 Rapid Vienna

Ohi Omoijuanfo’s 65th-minute goal was all Molde required to join Arsenal in posting a 2-0 start to the group stage ahead of a pair of matches versus the Gunners.

American winger Henry Wingo went 90 minutes at right back in the win, making two tackles and attempting three shots over a 99-touch day.

Real Sociedad 0-1 Napoli

One of the ties of the round, the Copa del Rey finalists hosts the Coppa Italia winners in San Sebastian.

The lone goal came on Matteo Politano’s deflected shot in the 55th minute, the assist going to Tiemoue Bakayoko.

Mexico’s Hirving Lozano did not start for Napoli but entered for an injured Lorenzo Insigne after just 22 minutes.

Sociedad out-shot Napoli and had plenty of the ball but just couldn’t find a way past David Ospina, who made three saves.

Napoli’s Victor Osimhen was sent off in stoppage time for arguing.

Slavia Prague 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen

A wild Karim Bellarabi sliding challenge put the Germans down a man after 22 minutes, but the hosts needed most of the match to get their upset special.

Nicolae Stanciu missed a penalty in the 65th minute but set-up Peter Olayinka’s 80th-minute winner as Slavia Prague scored its first tournament proper win since upsetting Sevilla in the 2018-19 UEL Round of 16.

Omonia 1-2 PSV Eindhoven

Donyell Malin scored both of the visitors’ goals, the second coming in stoppage time, as PSV Eindhoven avoided egg on its face with its late win in Cyprus.

Why was PSV trailing? Well, that’s a bit of controversy and a great-looking video. The ball might’ve not stopped after a foul when Jordi Gomez smashed in a goal from his own half.

American youth international Richie Ledezma was again an unused sub as PSV only made one change over 90 minutes.


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