EPL

Arsenal's Smith Rowe scores bizarre goal against Man Utd with De Gea down injured

By Sports Desk December 02, 2021

Emile Smith Rowe gave Arsenal the lead against Manchester United in bizarre circumstances in Thursday's Premier League contest, firing home with goalkeeper David de Gea down injured.

United shot-stopper De Gea was caught by team-mate Fred during an Arsenal corner and went down clutching his foot.

Harry Maguire headed the set-piece as far as Mohamed Elneny, who helped the ball into the path of Smith Rowe to half-volley past a still grounded De Gea from 20 yards.

After some initial confusion over whether the goal would be allowed to stand, referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the centre-circle to signal the start of Arsenal's celebrations.

United players were furious and caretaker boss Michael Carrick looked bemused on the touchline as opposite number Mikel Arteta punched the air.

With that strike after 13 minutes, Smith Rowe (21 years and 127 days) became the second-youngest scorer for Arsenal in a Premier League game at Old Trafford after Nicolas Anelka in February 1999 (19 years and 340 days).

United had shipped nine successive Premier League goals at Old Trafford without scoring, their longest such run, before Bruno Fernandes slotted in an equaliser shortly before half-time.

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    It may not have been the electrifying classic some might have anticipated given the pre-match hysteria, but Eintracht Frankfurt won't care even a little.

    Forty-two years after their last success on the European stage, Die Adler are Europa League champions; defeating Rangers on penalties in Seville after a 1-1 draw that saw both teams show a degree of desperation not to lose, rather than to win.

    It's easy to understand that mentality as well. Eintracht's decades of underachievement may not have crippled them, but there was a sense it was playing on their minds.

    Yet, ultimately it was they who held their nerve in the crucial penalty shootout – Aaron Ramsey's missed spot-kick prolonging Rangers' own European trophy dry spell.

    In that regard, it didn't really matter which way the contest went – either way, one club was going to enjoy one of the all-time great nights in their history.

    Neither had won a European trophy since Eintracht were victorious in the old UEFA Cup in 1980. Eight years before that, Rangers won the Cup Winners' Cup.

    The Europa League may be looked down upon by some, but such barren runs and the generally surprising fact either team made it so far was what helped this contest resonate with so many.

    And the Europa League's ability to inspire dreams of European success in fans who without it would likely never enjoy such a continental triumph is the true ethos of the competition.

    Local police estimated 150,000 supporters were in Seville for the game, which was seemingly dubbed the 'fans' final'.

    It was undoubtedly an apt moniker given the unequivocal impact the two sets of supporters have had on the teams' respective routes to Seville. Rangers had the 'Ibrox factor'; Eintracht turned the Camp Nou into a sea of white.

    At times during the early stages on Wednesday, it felt as if Rangers were trying to stay afloat in a similar expanse of whiteness, such was the greater composure of Eintracht almost all over the pitch.

    Eintracht were more effective with clever steals of possession and appeared to have considerably greater confidence receiving the ball under pressure, allowing quick transitions through the lines.

    Chances flowed at first. Daichi Kamada danced through the Rangers defence and forced a point-blank save from Allan McGregor; Djibril Sow brought a stop from 20 yards on the rebound; and Ansgar Knauff looked destined to score after driving into the box.

    But as Rafael Borre struggled to impose himself physically up top against what coach Oliver Glasner on Tuesday described as a "robust" Rangers, Eintracht's bizarre persistence to smash the ball long to him started to work against them.

    This perhaps went some way to explaining how Frankfurt completed just seven passes to their opponents' 54 in the attacking half between the 22nd and 43rd minutes.

    The Scots' confidence visibly grew as their grip on the contest improved.

    Joe Aribo curled just wide. Ryan Jack drilled just over. Clear-cut chances they may not have been, but they were notable evidence of having settled after a shaky start.

    An Eintracht flurry just after the interval promised greater entertainment, but the Bundesliga side showed no desire to heed the warnings of their only major area of concern, and it proved their undoing.

    Borre was once again comfortably beaten in the air as Kevin Trapp hoofed the ball aimlessly up the pitch. Calvin Bassey's header was flicked on by Sow and Aribo took full advantage of Tuta pulling up injured to slide beyond the goalkeeper.

    It's unclear if Eintracht reverted to type – by focusing on wing play – as a result of the shock of conceding, but it worked, with Borre finally allowed to showcase his best attribute: movement.

    Filip Kostic played 140 more corners/crosses (519) than any other player from the top five European leagues this season before Wednesday, but this was arguably the sweetest.

    Played low into the 'corridor of uncertainty', the Rangers defence didn't know what to do and Borre nipped in front of his marker to prod home.

    As early as that point in the 69th minute, penalties appeared the most-likely outcome in the sweltering – even at 23:00 local time – conditions, though Rangers certainly did their best to ensure that wasn't the case, with Ryan Kent and James Tavernier almost nicking the win right near the end of extra-time.

    From there, it came down to composure. Perhaps, given the way they eased into the game itself a little better, we shouldn't be surprised Eintracht prevailed even in the face of thousands of Rangers fans, with each one of their five penalties brilliantly precise.

    Ramsey looked to the floor as Eintracht players, staff and officials swarmed onto the pitch in the wake of Borre's decisive kick.

    Rangers' tale of rebirth has already been an extraordinary one. Ten years after finding themselves back at the bottom of the pile in Scottish football, they were in a second European final of the century.

    But for a club deemed the third-biggest in Germany by virtue of support, it was high time a European trophy made its way back to Frankfurt.

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    Eintracht Frankfurt claimed their first European trophy in 42 years after a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win over Rangers at the end of 1-1 draw in the Europa League final in Seville on Wednesday.

    Oliver Glasner's side were playing in their first European final since they beat Borussia Monchengladbach in the same competition in 1980 and they fell behind in the 57th minute when Joe Aribo took full advantage of some slapstick defending.

    The Bundesliga outfit forced extra time at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan 12 minutes later, however, courtesy of Rafael Borre's close-range finish.

    Borre was the hero in the shoot-out as well, the Colombian slamming home the decisive spot-kick after Aaron Ramsey had seen his penalty saved by Kevin Trapp, who had brilliantly denied Ryan Kent late in extra time.

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    Karolina Pliskova reached her maiden quarter-final of the season after battling past Bernarda Para in Strasbourg 6-3 1-6 6-1.

    Runner-up to Ash Barty at Wimbledon last July, Pliskova has endured a stop-start 2022 campaign.

    The Czech missed the first two months with a hand injury, while suffering first-round exits in Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid.

    But despite being taken to a decider by her French opponent, the top seed hit 16 aces on the way to reaching the last eight.

    Second seed Angelique Kerber also required a deciding set to progress to her first quarter-final of the campaign; the three-time Grand Slam winner overcoming Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 3-6 6-4.

    Fourth and ninth seeds Elise Mertens and Viktorija Golubic also advanced to the last eight following straight-set wins over Anna-Lena Friedsam and Fiona Ferro respectively.

    However, there was no joy for top seed Garbine Muguruza over in Rabat; the two-time Grand Slam champion was beaten 2-6 6-4 6-1 by world number 85 Martina Trevisan.

    The Italian's reward is a quarter-final showdown with seventh seed Arantxa Rus, who saw off Dalma Galfi 6-4 6-2.

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    Third seed Nuria Parrizas Diaz recovered from losing the opening set to defeat Kristina Mladenovic 4-6 6-3 6-0, while Anna Bondar hit seven aces as she overcame Kristina Kucova 6-3 6-3. 

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