Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored twice as Arsenal opened their Europa League Group E campaign with a comfortable win over Ukrainian side Vorskla Poltava. Until Aubameyang’s opening goal it had been a laboured performance from the Gunners, who had struggled to break through well-drilled opponents. However, the Gabon striker – the club’s record £56m signing last January – changed the dynamics of the contest by steering Alex Iwobi’s pass into the bottom left corner after the visitors overcommitted in attack. It was only Aubameyang’s sixth touch of the game, and Arsenal’s first shot on target but it allowed them to cut loose after the break.
England forward Danny Welbeck doubled Arsenal’s lead three minutes after the interval with a header from Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s cross. And as Unai Emery’s team surged forward, Aubameyang stroked his second goal of the night past visiting goalkeeper Bohdan Shust before substitute Mesut Ozil rounded off the scoring for the hosts. “I didn’t play in the Europa League last year and I am really happy to be back in this competition,” said Aubameyang. “We want to go to the final, of course – it is an objective and hopefully we will do well in our next games.”
At 4-0 the scoreline was cruel on Vorskla, who have had a mixed start in the Ukrainian Premier League after finishing third last term. They did, though, muster consolation goals via captain Vladimir Chesnakov’s left-footed shot from 18 yards and Vyacheslav Sharpar’s strike moments before the final whistle blew. There were opportunities for Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira, Switzerland full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner and Germany goalkeeper Bernd Leno – all three making their Arsenal starting debut.