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Alexandre Lacazette scores on Arsenal debut in friendly vs. Sydney FC

Alexandre Lacazette marked his Arsenal debut with a goal as the Gunners beat Sydney FC 2-0 in their first preseason friendly on Thursday.

Lacazette came on in the second half and only needed 15 minutes to open his Arsenal account, showing proof of his clinical finishing ability by side-footing in a low cross from Alex Iwobi.

The Gunners’ record signing, who was bought from Lyon in a deal that could be worth up to £52 million, started on the bench but was brought on by Arsene Wenger as part of wholesale changes with a bit more than 20 minutes remaining.

Per Mertesacker had given Arsenal an early lead with an acrobatic volley after a corner in the fourth minute, but goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne made a string of saves to prevent the Gunners from increasing the lead – including on Danny Welbeck’s first-half penalty.

Wenger started with an intriguing mix of experience and youth, as 17-year-olds Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock made their first-team debuts alongside Cohen Bramall, the left-back who was signed from non-league side Hednesford Town in January.

Nelson and Bramall both impressed in their wing-back positions as Wenger stuck with a back-three formation, with new signing Sead Kolasinac as one of the centre-backs. Willock, whose older brother Chris left the club this month to sign with Benfica, nearly scored with a good solo run after going past two defenders to break into the area, but had his shot saved by Redmayne.

But the debutant who stole the show was undoubtedly Lacazette, who only needed one scoring chance to show why Wenger spent big on bringing him to the club. With Iwobi breaking down the right flank, Lacazette found space in the box for the midfielder to pick him out, and calmly slotted the ball past Redmayne from just outside the six-yard box.

Lacazette came on together with Olivier Giroud and played alongside his fellow France international up front, with two more forwards — 18-year-old academy products Eddie Nketiah and Donyell Malen — playing on the wings. It was a gung-ho attacking lineup that’s only likely to be seen in friendlies but it paid off as Redmayne finally had to surrender a second goal, having also denied Theo Walcott and Bramall earlier in the game.

Arsenal play Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday before travelling to China, with games against Bayern Munich in Shanghai and Chelsea in Beijing next week.


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