CHARLOTTE: Eddie Nketiah continued his fine pre-season form with two goals as Arsenal produced a 3-0 victory over Fiorentina in the International Champions Cup in Charlotte on Saturday.
Arsenal fielded a young side with Nketiah, who scored the winner against Bayern Munich in Arsenal’s last match, leading the line, and the 20-year-old wasted no time in finding the net again when he opened the scoring in the 15th minute.
Fiorentina pushed for an equaliser as Arsenal rang the changes in the second half, and two substitutes — Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alexandre Lacazette — combined to create an unmissable chance for Nketiah to make it two in the 65th minute.
Defensive errors were again a common occurrence in the Arsenal backline, but Fiorentina failed to take advantage, and Joe Willock ensured the EPL side’s second win from two games with a late third goal.
“I’m really happy but last year in small moments when we could give him (Nketiah) chances to be on the pitch he did very well,” Arsenal manager Unai Emery said. “His progress is impressive, we want progress with every player.
“He has a very good attitude and he needs experience, minutes and confidence. The young energy is very important.”
Two senior players — Nacho Montreal and Shkodran Mustafi — got away with two poor defensive errors early on, with goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saving smartly to deny Dusan Vlahovic to spare Mustafi’s blushes.
Straight down the other end, Nketiah gave Fiorentina goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski no chance, as he collected a pass from Sead Kolasinac, sidestepped the defender then fired into the bottom corner.
Nketiah was in the thick of it in the 35th minute too, but this time in defence, clearing a header from Federico Ceccherini off the line, before Riccardo Sottil was denied by another smart save from Martinez.
Arsenal switched to a back four for the second half, but the errors remained prevalent, with Vlahovic denied by a fine save from substitute goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
Further substitutions slowed the game down in the latter stages, but that did not stop Willock scoring his first goal of the pre-season.
Arsenal now head to the outskirts of Washington D.C. to meet Real Madrid and aiming to finish their U.S tour with a 100 per cent record.
A version of this article appears in print on July 21, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.