Arsenal confirmed top spot in their Europa League group as Kieran Tierney’s first-half strike saw them dispatch Zurich 1-0 on Thursday night.

The defender opened the scoring after a tense opening and the hosts held their Swiss opponents at bay for the remainder of the game to win Group A and render PSV Eindhoven’s victory at Bodo/Glimt irrelevant.

It means Mikel Arteta’s side progress straight to the last 16 and will avoid a knockout play-off against a Champions League droput.

Arsenal had won 12 consecutive games at the Emirates heading into Thursday night, though were slightly cagey as they chased the victory that would win Group A.

A Zurich corner found its way to Jonathan Okita, who smashed over before the offside flag was raised. However, that brief threat was extinguished as the Gunners took the lead through left back Tierney.

A somewhat scrappy build-up saw Fabio Vieira have two shots blocked before the ball found the Scotsman, whose arrowed effort flew into the bottom corner.

Arsenal upset Zurich’s rhythm and a sloppy pass from Cheick Oumar Conde allowed Mohamed Elneny to find Eddie Nketiah, whose strike from 20 yards was beaten away by Yanick Brecher.

The home side’s flair began to come out, with Gabriel Jesus flicking nicely into Nketiah’s path before Vieira arrived on the scene. The Portuguese midfielder’s shot hit Jesus and fell to Reiss Nelson, but his effort was blocked.

Okita showed his threat for the visitors and a deflection off Elneny had Aaron Ramsdale scrambling towards the bottom corner to make the save. Nketiah was soon denied at the other end of the pitch, having a firm header saved by Brecher, while Vieira had an attempt cleared by Guerrero with Brecher stranded.

Arsenal weren’t overly stretched during the opening parts of the second half, with regular starters Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey, Martin Odegaard and Takehiro Tomiyasu coming on as substitutes to help close the game out.

The finish was a little tenser than home fans would have hoped as they failed to find a killer second goal, but they eventually reached full time with their 1-0 lead intact and their place in the final 16 of the Europa League secured.

GK: Aaron Ramsdale – 7/10 – Had one blunder when a pass aimed for Holding went out for a Zurich corner. Needed on a few occasions to bring out some eye-catching saves and deserved the clean sheet.

RB: Ben White – 6/10 – Created a decent opening for Saka. Passing was a little askew generally but defensively sound.

CB: Rob Holding – 6/10 – Very good in the air and won four tackles. Zurich only threatened in patches, so not a tough outing.

CB: Gabriel – 6/10 – Another good display from the Brazilian, though he’ll face tougher tasks.

LB: Kieran Tierney – 9/10 – Arrived on the scene to slam in the game’s only goal. An attacking threat on the left and recovered the ball frequently in defence.

CM: Fabio Vieira – 8/10 – Influence grew on Arsenal’s attacking play and he was involved in the build-up to Tierney’s strike with a couple of blocked shots. Made four key passes.

CM: Mohamed Elneny – 6/10 – Workmanlike in the middle from Elneny, who made a couple of tackles.

CM: Albert Sambi Lokonga – 6/10 – Adventurous with the ball at his feet and kept things ticking over.

RW: Reiss Nelson – 7/10 – Looked pretty confident off the back of two league goals and contributed in defence, making three tackles.

ST: Gabriel Jesus – 7/10 – A few moments of lovely interplay with his forward line went unrewarded. Always looked to dribble beyond his marker where possible.

LW: Eddie Nketiah – 6/10 – His side’s most accurate shooter on the night with two efforts on target. A little frustrating but might have added one or two to Arsenal’s tally on another night.

SUB: Bukayo Saka (63′ for Jesus) – 6/10 – One opportunity from White’s pass just escaped his grasp.

SUB: Thomas Partey (63′ for Elneny) – 7/10 – Zurich found it harder to build attacks once Partey was introduced.

SUB: Martin Odegaard (73′ for Vieira) – 6/10 – The club captain got on for the final 20 minutes.

SUB: Takehiro Tomiyasu (73′ for White) – 6/10 – Took a knock and was replaced after getting treatment on the pitch.

SUB: Cedric (88′ for Tomiyasu) – N/A – On for the final few minutes.

Manager: Mikel Arteta – 7/10 – Would have wanted a more lethal attacking display but ultimately the job was done with a 1-0 victory. Arteta’s focus will now shift to Sunday’s clash with Arsenal.

GK: Yanick Brecher (7); CB: Lindrit Kamberi (6), CB: Nikola Katic (7), CB: Fidan Aliti (6.5);, RM: Nikola Boranijasevic (6); CM: Ole Selnaes (6.5), CM: Cheick Oumar Conde (7), LM: Adrian Guerrero (6); AM: Jonathan Okita (6); ST: Fabian Rohner (6), ST: Aiyegun Tosin (6).

SUB: Marc Hornschuh (5), Bogdan Vyunnyk (5), Bledian Krasniqi (N/A), Ivan Santini (N/A)


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