Emirates Stadium, London, England
52′ López (OG)
Arsenal got their Emirates Cup campaign off to the perfect start with an impressive 5-2 victory over Portuguese Champions Benfica at the Emirates Stadium in London.
Franco Cervi gave the Águias a surprise lead with a deflected strike before a brace from Theo Walcott put the Gunners ahead, only for Eduardo Salvio to level the scores six minutes before the interval with another deflected strike. An own-goal from substitute Lisandro López then put the hosts in front before further goals from Olivier Giroud and Alex Iwobi completed the rout.
The Gunners initially started well and nearly went ahead after just three minutes when Walcott sent a teasing cross into the path of Giroud, but his header was palmed away by Júlio César from point-blank-range.
Nine minutes later the Portuguese Champions went ahead when Jonas’ headed-pass found Cervi, who fired an effort that deflected fortuitously off Per Mertesacker before beating David Ospina.
In the 24th minute the hosts levelled the scores. Sead Kolašinac did well to get the better of Pizzi, who was looking to shepherd the ball out of play, and found Walcott, who volleyed home.
Eight minutes later the Gunners went in front. Kolašinac and Francis Coquelin exchanged passes before the Frenchman sent a teasing delivery across the face of goal to Walcott, who tapped home.
Two minutes later the Águias went close to levelling the scores when Cervi found Pizzi, who fired an effort at-goal that Ospina palmed away, after Rob Holding earlier lost possession.
In the 39th minute the Portuguese side levelled the scores. Reiss Nelson initially lost possession deep in his own-half allowing Benfica to break with Pizzi, who found Jonas, who eventually teed-up Salvio, who fired home via a deflection off Holding.
Seven minutes into the restart the hosts took the lead when Walcott’s teasing delivery across the face of goal was put into his own-net by the unfortunate substitute López, who was attempting to block the cross.
Four minutes later Arsenal should have extended their lead when Giroud wonderfully got the better of Luisão before teeing-up Walcott, who somehow fired the ball over the bar from close-range.
In the 64th minute the Gunners made it four when Giroud did well to get ahead of youngster Aurélio Buta to latch onto Nelson’s terrific delivery and volley home into the far-post.
Three minutes later the hosts went close to a fifth when substitute Mohamed Elneny found Giroud, who volleyed a powerful effort at-goal that César was forced to palm away instinctively at the near-post.
Three minutes later Arsenal made it five when Kolašinac’s pull-back found Giroud, who teed-up Iwobi, who fired home powerfully past César.
A minute later Benfica nearly pulled a goal back when Pizzi forced Ospina into a fine save, with the keeper doing well to palm the strike away.
In the 81st minute substitute the Portuguese side went close when Raúl Jiménez shrugged off his man before firing an effort just wide of the far-post.
The result meant that Arsenal moved to the top of the Emirates Cup table on 8 points ahead of Sevilla on five points, while Benfica dropped to third on two points, above Leipzig, who are still without a point.