Lacazette debuts as Arsenal beat Sydney FC

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    It took Alexandre Lacazette just 15 minutes to justify his $79 million price tag, scoring on debut in Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat of A-League champions Sydney FC in their first pre-season hitout.

    The Gunners dominated from whistle to whistle on Thursday night at a packed ANZ Stadium, but only had a couple of goals to show for it.

    One reason was weak finishing, an issue club-record signing Lacazette promptly resolved in the 83rd minute with a run timed to perfection, much to the delight of the 80,432 fans.

    The other was the brilliant display of Sydney’s unlikely new hero Andrew Redmayne, who pressed his case for a starting spot this season.

    The maligned gloveman, who trialled at Arsenal for two weeks as a teenager, produced the performance of his career with several top-string saves including a Danny Welbeck penalty.

    “I’ve always had a lot of faith in Andrew Redmayne,” Sky Blues coach Graham Arnold said.

    “He’s copped a bit of harsh criticism in the last couple of years but, two years ago, he helped the Wanderers to the grand final as well.”

    Nevertheless, the first goal was ugly for Sydney.

    Just four minutes in, the hosts failed to deal with a corner, leaving captain Per Mertesacker to hook in an overhead kick.

    Sydney settled into the game somewhat, although their passing did not, and they slowed the contest to a walking pace just to maintain possession.

    In stark contrast, Arsenal played with purpose as Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott stretched Sydney’s defence but struggled on the final ball.

    Lively 17-year-old Reiss Nelson was a handful on the right flank while fellow young debutant Joe Willock slalomed through Sydney’s defence.

    But the hosts sparked just before the break as Petr Cech denied a marauding Josh Brillante, before Matt Simon turned the rebound into the outside of the back post.

    Sydney spun into action in the second half and substitute Christopher Zuvela forced replacement goalkeeper Emi Martinez into a sharp save.

    Then referee Shaun Evans made a howler in awarding Arsenal a penalty.

    Seb Ryall made a superb diving save just as Walcott looked to tap the ball into an empty net.

    It smacked into the defender’s back, but it was wrongly judged it to have hit his hand.

    In the end it didn’t matter, because Redmayne was keen to add to his night’s already-lengthy showreel with a low dive to the right to repel Welbeck’s ensuing spot-kick.

    Coach Arsene Wenger then executed a 10-man substitution in the 68th minute.

    Everyone from Olivier Giroud to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Granit Xhaka came on, but it was Lacazette the crowd had been waiting for.

    The French striker wasted no time settling into his new No.9 shirt, reading a swift attack and zipping into the box to sidefoot home.

    “It’s important he gets that off his shoulders,” Wenger said.

    “Because we expect strikers to score. You could see that he was happy.”

    © AAP 2017

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