Luuk de Jong scored one and assisted another in a superb second-half cameo as PSV beat Arsenal 2-0, with the Gunners missing the chance to seal top spot in Europa League Group A.
Mikel Arteta highlighted the importance of topping the group ahead of the game, with the winners going straight into the round of 16 and by-passing an additional play-off tie that includes the best third place teams from the Champions League – Barcelona and six-time Europa League winners Sevilla are already in the draw.
But PSV looked the more likely to top the group – having qualified for the knockout rounds themselves courtesy of Zurich’s late win against Bodo/Glimt – and could have been out of sight in the first half too, although their two goals were correctly ruled out for offside.
The first was a fine finish from Cody Gakpo, but the flag was up. Then, right before half-time, the lively Xavi Simons beat three Arsenal defenders before slotting home, only for former Aston Villa winger Anwar El Ghazi to be penalised by VAR for being offside in the build-up.
Ruud van Nistelrooy introduced 32-year-old striker De Jong at the break in what proved to be an inspired decision. He set up Joey Veerman for PSV’s opener (55), holding off Rob Holding with little effort before squaring the ball for the midfielder. Veerman then slotted home as the Dutch side finally saw a goal stand.
De Jong then scored himself. Gakpo delivered a corner, with Aaron Ramsdale – making his European debut in place of the injured Matt Turner – fumbling his attempt to punch the ball away, allowing the PSV striker to head home (63).
Gakpo again had the ball in the net in the second half, but another offside flag was up, but it did not matter too much as Arsenal offered very little at the other end.
The battle between the Gunners and PSV for top spot in Group A will now go down to the final group matches next Thursday. Arsenal remain two points ahead in first, but will want an all-out win against Zurich to sending them into the round of 16.
More to follow…
Arsenal are back in Premier League action on Sunday when they face bottom side Nottingham Forest at the Emirates; kick-off 2pm. Their final Europa League group stage fixture is against Zurich on Thursday November 3.
PSV face NEC Nijmegen on Sunday in the Eredivisie, before their final Europa League group-stage fixture against Bodo/Glimt on Thursday.