Arsenal washed away the pain of their defeat to Sheffield United with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Vitória Guimarães in the Europa League on Thursday.
Youngster Gabriel Martinelli continued his exciting start to life at the Emirates with another goal, drawing the Gunners level having fallen behind to an eight-minute goal from former Spurs youngster Marcus Edwards.
However, the star of the show was undoubtedly club-record signing, Nicolas Pepe.
The Ivorian winger has blown hot and cold during the start of his Arsenal career so far, managing just the one goal prior to Thursday night.
But with Arsenal finding themselves behind once again with just 10 minutes remaining, Pepe stepped up and delivered a wonderful left-footed free-kick into Miguel Silva’s bottom-right corner, having only left the substitute’s bench five minutes previous. The Emirates erupted, but Pepe wasn’t done yet.
Players to score 2 direct free-kicks in a Champions League / Europa League game since 2006/07;
Cristiano Ronaldo (Sep 2009)
Gareth Bale (Feb 2013)
Luis Suárez (Feb 2013)
Neymar (October 2018)
Nicolas Pépé (October 2019) pic.twitter.com/dxwDoffxfm
— Harvey Downes (@HarveyDownes92) October 24, 2019
As the game descending into added time, Matteo Guendouzi went charging through the midfield and was finally hacked down on the edge of the box by Rochinha. There was only going to be one man taking the resulting free-kick.
Once again, Pepe bent the ball beyond Silva’s right hand, inducing an even bigger roar from the Arsenal faithful than the one which came before, and handing Unai Emery a much-needed win after pressure had been mounting on the Spaniard.
And not only did this brace have significant importance to Arsenal, but it also made Pepe just the third player to have scored two direct free-kicks in a single Europa League game since the competition’s rebrand, emulating former Liverpool and Spurs men, Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale.
The similarities with former Tottenham hero Bale go even further, with his and Pepe’s second goals both coming in second-half injury time. Set-piece magic once again in north London.
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