Pepe's late free kicks lead Arsenal 3-2 comeback

ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 25, 2019 07:58 AM
Pepe's late free kicks lead Arsenal 3-2 comeback
Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe, right, shoots to score his side's third goal during the Europa League group F soccer match between Arsenal and Vitoria SC in London, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

By Karel Janicek, Associated Press

Nicolas Pepe finally lived up to his price tag as he came off the bench to lead Arsenal's to a 3-2 comeback victory over Vitória with perfectly executed free kicks in the Europa League on Thursday.

Pepe, the club's record signing, equalized by curling the ball around the defensive wall in the 80th minute and then replicated the feat in injury time to help Arsenal avoid an embarrassing home loss.

Arsenal and Sevilla are now the only two clubs with a full nine points after three group-stage games, with the Spanish side beating Dudelange 3-0 at home.

Earlier Thursday, Anthony Martial scored from the penalty spot for Manchester United to beat Partizan Belgrade 1-0 and end a four-game winless streak.

It was the first away win for United in any competition since March. However, the team still looked far from rediscovering its attacking verve and has only scored two goals in three games in the second-tier European competition.

The Premier League club held a ceremony on Thursday morning at the Partizan stadium in Belgrade to honor the victims of the 1958 Munich plane crash, which happened a day after playing a European Cup game at the same venue. United's plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Munich, killing 23 people onboard, including eight players and three club employees.

In early results, Wolverhampton Wanderers rallied with two second-half goals to beat Slovan Bratislava 2-1. Teun Koopmeiners scored two goals from the penalty spot in AZ Alkmaar's 6-0 win over Astana. Roma was held 1-1 at home by Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Here's a look at Thursday's games:

POUROUS DEFENSE

Arsenal fell behind twice at the Emirates, with Marcus Edwards giving Vitória a ninth-minute lead by finishing off a quick counter. The 20-year-old Edwards came to the Portuguese club from Arsenal's archrival Tottenham in September.

Arsenal teenage forward Gabriel Martinelli leveled the score with a header in the 32nd. It was the third goal for the 18-year-old in the Europa League and fifth overall in three starts for the club.

But the visitors were 2-1 up five minutes later after another speedy move, exploiting a blunder by Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Davidson poured forward and fired a shot against the post, with Bruno Duarte on hand to slot in the rebound.

Vitória had not scored a single goal in its first two group-stage games, but continually caused problems for Arsenal's defense with its quick counters.

But Pepe, whose only Arsenal goal had come from a penalty before this game, turned things around after replacing Alexandre Lacazette in the 75th minute.

Frankfurt is second in Group F after a home 2-1 win over Standard Liege.

RARE AWAY WIN

United has only scored more than one goal in one of its nine Premier League games this season, and the story is much the same in the Europa League.

After a 0-0 draw at Alkmaar in the last round, United needed a penalty to get on the scoresheet this time, after Brandon Williams was brought down in the area. Martial, who recently returned from an injury, calmly sent goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic the wrong way.

It was United's first away goal in any competition since August.

In another rare chance, Jesse Lingard came close when he hit the post.

After the team's worst start to the Premier League for three decades, winning the second-tier European competition might be the only chance for United to return to the prestigious Champions League.

The Red Devils lead Group L with seven points, two ahead of Alkmaar.

PRECISE PENALTIES

In a tightly contested Group G, Young Boys jumped to the top of the standings with two goals from the penalty spot in a 2-0 victory over Feyenoord.

Roger Assalé converted the first after Edgar Ié's handball in the 14th minute. Jean Pierre Nsamé added the second in the 28th.

Young Boys has six points, two more than 2011 Europa League champion Porto and Rangers, who played to a 1-1 draw.

Feyenoord is another point back.

OTHER GROUPS

Wolves trailed to a first-half goal by Andraz Sporar but Romain Saiss equalized in the 58th and Raúl Jiménez scored the winner from the spot in the 64th to complete the comeback.

Braga still tops Group K on seven points after beating Besiktas 2-1, one point ahead of Wolves.

Víctor Campuzano scored for Espanyol to beat Bulgaria's Ludogorets 1-0 and take the lead in Group H.

Gent and Wolfsburg share the top spot in Group I after drawing 2-2.

Dynamo Kyiv and Copenhagen played to a 1-1 draw to stay tied atop Group B.

Basel won 1-0 at Getafe despite going down to 10 men in the 74th minute, a result that gives the Swiss club the lead in Group C.

In Group E, Celtic rallied from a goal down to edge Lazio 2-1 and cement first place on seven points.

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