Arsenal beats Forest in Premier League opener
LONDON (AP) — Arsenal’s Premier League opener featured a delayed start and a nervy finish before ending in a 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
Eddie Nketiah and Bukayo Saka scored first-half goals as Arsenal looked to be heading for a comfortable win in a game delayed by 30 minutes because supporters couldn’t get into the stadium on time.
But substitute Taiwo Awoniyi pulled a goal back on a quick counterattack in the 83rd to give the visitors hope, although they never came close to an equalizer through seven minutes of stoppage time.
“Obviously it was a bit of a nervy finish, but we defended really well,” Nketiah said. “It’s a good start, not just for myself but for the team.”
The kickoff was delayed after the club’s new digital ticketing system malfunctioned to leave tens of thousands of supporters unable to get through the gates, before the turnstiles were eventually able to open.
Once the game got started, it took Arsenal a little more than 30 minutes to ensure it was an unpleasant return to the Emirates for former Gunners goalkeeper Matt Turner, the United States No. 1 who only completed his move from the London club to Nottingham this week.
Turner was making his Premier League debut after only being used in cup competitions by Arsenal last season.
Nketiah put Arsenal ahead in the 26th after being teed up by an eye-catching assist from Gabriel Martinelli. The Brazilian winger dribbled down the left flank and then took produced a spin move between two defenders and a backheel flick to Nketiah in the box, whose shot took a slight deflection before sneaking past Turner.
Saka then produced another highlight-reel moment just six minutes later, cutting in from the right and curling a left-footed long-range strike into the far corner past the outstretched Turner.
Nketiah started in place of the injured Gabriel Jesus, after being on the bench for the Community Shield game against Manchester City last weekend.
“He trained like a beast this week, telling me ‘I deserve to play,’” Arteta said. "So I had to play him, because he gave me every reason.”
All three of Arsenal’s summer signings also started the game, with Declan Rice and Kai Havertz playing in midfield and Jurrien Timber filling in at left-back for the not-fully-fit Oleksandr Zinchenko.
But Timber had to go off with a leg injury early in the second half, while Rice had three efforts on goal saved by Turner.
U.S. international Folarin Balogun was left out of the squad completely, with the striker expected to leave Arsenal before the end of the transfer window.
With Arsenal unable to build on its lead, substitute Anthony Elanga sparked hopes of a comeback when he ran the length of the field on a counter following an Arsenal corner and squared the ball for Awoniyi to finish from close range.
Forest couldn't test Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale again, though, with Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard coming the closest to scoring in stoppage time with a shot over the bar.
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