Gabriel Jesus’s sublime goal and assist gives Arsenal vital victory over Sevilla

Classy Jesus steers Arsenal to win over Sevilla

In the end they were made to resist, but Arsenal are back on top. On a night when Mikel Arteta said his side were forced to play many games in one, controlling when it was called for, holding on when they had to and slipping in the knife when the opportunity arose, the very last kick and the chance to have the last word fell to the Sevilla striker Lucas Ocampos.

With the clock on 97 minutes, the hosts 2-1 down and the ball sitting up, he could have changed everything. Instead he sliced past David Raya’s left hand and into the stand, leaving his team facing the prospect of another Europa League adventure and their opponents’ future in the continent’s premier competition in their own hands.

As Ocampos sat on the turf, the Sánchez-Pizjuán fell quiet, except for the 3,000 Arsenal fans high in the corner who had watched what their coach described as another step in this team’s development, “a brutal experience”. This, he said, was a victory of merit; it was a demonstration too of the emotional management he had demanded, with Declan Rice and William Saliba among those who impressed. Though none shone brighter than Gabriel Jesus.

Ultimately, two grand moments from the Brazilian either side of half‑time did it: the first an exceptional assist that broke the game open in the blink of an eye, the second the shot that flashed past Ørjan Nyland and into the far corner. Asked afterwards which was better, Arteta replied “both”, adding: “I would like to see a replay of the first in slow motion because it was so sharp. He came for a reason: this is our level now and we need players like that.”

Arsenal’s opener came at the very end of the first half, when the game had begun to tilt slightly away from them and an initially timid Sevilla had started to think they could get a goal of their own. Instead, they found themselves sliced open. Superb footwork from Ocampos enabled him to get away from Bukayo Saka, nicking the ball through the England player’s legs and running at the defence, space opening before him but Dodi Lukebakio’s cross was cleared and Sevilla were suddenly exposed, stripped bare by Jesus.

A lovely turn enabled him to evade two players and slide the ball into a huge gap. Dashing free was Gabriel Martinelli, alone from the halfway line. A long run to the goal, right through the middle, and Nyland came to him. It was the second time the two men had come face to face, the Norwegian denying Martinelli when he had been released by Jorginho after 10 minutes, but this time the outcome was different. Martinelli slowed, stepped around the keeper to the right and rolled the ball into an empty net.

Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus curls in a beautiful finish against Sevilla
Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus curls in a beautiful finish against Sevilla. Photo: Shutterstock

When that first opportunity had been passed up, it didn’t seem to matter much: at that point it had appeared Arsenal would open Sevilla again and often. They had stepped high and dominated the opening period. And yet Diego Alonso’s side would settle, even if too often their moves ended at the feet of Lukebakio. It was he who missed their best early opportunity, failing to control by the penalty spot after the kind of loose Raya pass that can only fuel the goalkeeping debate had gifted Sevilla possession in a dangerous position.

The next chance came Sevilla’s way too, Sergio Ramos stepping out from the back to find Ocampos who nudged it into the path of Youssef En‑Nesyri. Beyond the defence, his shot faded past the far post.

If Sevilla were encouraged forward by that, it proved to be their downfall right on the verge of half-time, and soon after the break they had conceded again. Jesus received on the left, cut inside Jesús Navas, stepped on to the sweet spot for a shot and bent a brilliant finish into the far corner.

Arsenal had started the second period as if determined to end this and now, nine minutes in, it seemed that they might have done but it did not play out that way. A Nemanja Gudelj header from a corner put Sevilla back in it and then Mariano Díaz, on as a substitute, brought the ball down on his chest and smashed a shot against the bar. Next came a overhead kick from Ocampos, going close; game on.

Sevilla were throwing what they could at Arsenal now. These were the moments Arteta had meant, stressing the importance of knowing that they will always come and having the capacity to withstand them. “These games demand you play lots of different games,” he said. “We controlled it and created chances but at 2-0 we did not kill them off. We conceded from a corner and then we lacked control and had to defend our area, but we are very happy because we found those different things that are very important, and in a stadium where not many teams have won.”

If he had warned his side, so had the fans in this arena, a huge banner unfurled at the start declaring: “Europe knows what we are capable of”. They were going to fight, that was for sure. On 90 minutes, En-Nesyri leapt to head. Raya then had to push away a wayward cross that almost sneaked in and Nyland was sent up for a corner until, in the very last second, the ball sat up before Ocampos. Sevilla though could not find a way through. Arsenal, top of Group B, now should.