LONDON: Alexandre Lacazette gave Arsenal an injury scare as the club’s record signing limped off after scoring his first home goal in Sunday’s (Monday in Manila) 2-1 Emirates Cup defeat against Sevilla.
Lacazette is under pressure to make an immediate impact after Arsene Wenger splashed out £52 million ($68 million, 58 million euros) to sign the France striker from Lyon earlier this month.
The 26-year-old shrugged off an anonymous first half to mark his maiden start at the Emirates Stadium with Arsenal’s second-half equalizer after Joaquin Correa had put the Spaniards ahead.
But Lacazette’s afternoon ended in pain when he was forced off in the closing stages of the pre-season friendly.
With Arsenal due to face Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley on August 6 before opening their Premier League campaign against Leicester City five days later, Wenger will be hoping Lacazette’s injury is nothing serious.
Wenger’s initial impression was that Lacazette would recover quickly.
“He was ok. I took him off but it was not because of the injury,” said Wenger.
“He suffered because we were a bit flat and he didn’t get much service. But when he was involved he was intelligent, he protected the ball well and he got his goal.
“That’s him. To score goals is to be in the right place when the cross comes in and he has that quality.”
Steven N’Zonzi scored Sevilla’s winner, but Arsenal finished top of the four-team group on goals scored to clinch the Emirates Cup for a fifth time.
Having thrashed Benfica 5-2 on Saturday, Wenger was far more interested in his team delivering a positive performance than securing a meaningless pre-season prize.
In the end, a sloppy defensive display meant it was a frustrating afternoon for the Arsenal manager.
Egypt midfielder Mohamed Elneny had been deployed as one of Arsenal’s three centre-backs with only limited success during the team’s tour of Australia and China.
Wenger again experimented with the positional switch and Sevilla almost took advantage of Elneny’s lack of experience in his new role when Ever Banega clipped a pass beyond the Egyptian to put Wissam Ben Yedder clear on the edge of the area.
Ben Yedder took a touch before drilling a shot across Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech, only to see it hit a post and rebound to safety.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s future remains unresolved, with Chelsea and Liverpool said to be interested in the England winger, and he was by far Arsenal’s most impressive performer, with 17-year-old Joe Willock starting alongside him in midfield.
However, Correa put the Spanish side ahead in the 49th minute with a cool finish after sprinting onto Ben Yedder’s smart reverse pass.
Lacazette then shot tamely at David Soria before making amends with the equaliser in the 62nd minute.
Oxlade-Chamberlain powered down the right flank before crossing into the six-yard box and, when Danny Welbeck mistimed his shot, Lacazette was on hand to slot home from close range.
It was Lacazette’s second goal for Arsenal after he opened his account in a pre-season friendly against Sydney FC in Australia.
Former Stoke City midfielder N’Zonzi restored Sevilla’s lead with a superb curling strike from the edge of the area seven minutes later.
In Sunday’s other Emirates Cup match, RB Leipzig won 2-0 against Portuguese champions Benfica.