Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal’s club record £53million signing, took less than 15 minutes to score his first goal for his new employers as they breezed to a 2-0 win over Sydney on the first match of their tour to Australia and China.
The Frenchman, who entered the fray on 68 minutes, had the ball in the back of the net on 83, when he calmly slotted fellow substitute Alex Iwobi’s pull-back home from around 10 yards out.
Lacazette was handed the number nine jersey following his much-heralded arrival and perhaps gave a glimpse of things to come with a predatory finish.
The Gunners had wasted a staggering number of chances to double their lead after Per Mertesacker’s early opener.
But Lacazette made no mistake and Arsene Wenger will have noted his impact. Mertesacker had said he wanted to make his final season a fairytale. He got the first chapter off to a decent start here.
Less than five minutes had elapsed when the big man put the visitors, attacking the Jonny Wilkinson End, into the lead – turning on a deflected Mesut Ozil corner from three yards out and volleying into the corner. The finish was considerably better than the celebration, in which the German set off running, jumped in the air and landed on the spot.
Regardless, it delighted the vast majority of an impressive 80,432 crowd. This was the first time the Gunners have played Down Under for 40 years and the iconic stadium was awash with the famous red shirts with white sleeves. A shame, then, that Arsenal played in their new, admittedly sleek, third strip of black and grey.
Wenger has brought a number of youngsters on the trip and included four in the starting line-up.
Reiss Nelson was the pick. The Elephant and Castle-born 17-year-old has pace to burn and superb footwork. He caused the hosts problem after problem with an electrifying opening half on the right.
Joe Willock also impressed and almost had a goal to show for his efforts but was denied after a jinking, mazy run by Sydney keeper Andrew Redmayne. After 35 minutes, the visitors had registered 15 shots.
It was a similar pattern after the break with Arsenal creating and wasting chances. Danny Welbeck did have the chance to double the lead after a penalty was given for a handball that was not. However, his spot kick was palmed away by Redmayne, low to his right.
Sead Kolasinac made his debut and looked solid, although he will face substantially bigger tests in the months ahead than that offered here by Australia’s champions.
After 68 minutes came the 10 changes, with Lacazette on for his Gunners debut. The Frenchman’s arrival has prompted Olivier Giroud to question his own future. Here, Lacazette played in a two behind Giroud who took over from a rusty Welbeck as lead striker.
The magnificent Redmayne had a two-week trial with Arsenal as a teenager and is a fan of the club. He will take fond memories from the night he played against them, pulling off another string of saves including one fine parry from an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain free-kick.
He could not, however, stop Lacazette on a pleasing night for the Gunners.