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Nicolas Pepe rescues Arsenal

Arsenal’s £72million signing has finally arrived in England with two late goals to break the heart of Vitoria.



Nicolas Pepe rescues Arsenal
Nicolas Pepe turned the game to its head with his 15-minute appearance. Photo: Getty

Substitute Nicolas Pepe came off the bench to rescue Arsenal at home against Vitoria Guimaraes with two late free kicks in the Europa League on Thursday.

Arsenal came from behind to win 3-2 and stay perfect in Group F.In the ninth minute, Marcus Edwards, once compared by Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino to a young Lionel Messi, fired a shot under Emiliano Martinez. Brazilian teenager Gabriel Martinelli replied with a header but Vitoria regained the lead before half time with a goal from Bruno Duarte.

Arsenal were losing 2-1 when Pepe came on in the 75th minute.

After 80 minutes he curled a free kick inside the far post. He repeated the trick three minutes into added time to secure the victory.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery made 10 changes from the side that lost to Sheffield United in the Premier League on Monday but was forced to bring on Matteo Guendouzi and Dani Ceballos at half-time, before Pepe made the difference.

There was huge excitement this summer when Arsenal signed Ivory Coast winger Pepe from Lille for a club record fee of £72m.He showed glimpses of brilliance against Liverpool on his first Premier League start in August and picked up an assist in the following game against Tottenham.

But the winger has been largely underwhelming and needed to make an impression from the bench in this European tie.And that is exactly what he did, curling both set-pieces past a helpless Miguel Silva to give Arsenal another three points in the group, as they maintained their 100% record in the competition this season.

Arsenal fans remain frustrated at lack of game time for midfielder Mesut Ozil. Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown said on BT Sport at half-time “pressure is building” on manager Emery.

Fans were booing as the players walked off at the break trailing 2-1 and banners displaying the words “Emery out” and “Unai, stop freezing Ozil out” were seen in the stands. German midfielder Mesut Ozil was not included in the squad and has made just two appearances this season.

Club manager Unai Emery said about his performance that, “It’s important for Pepe, He can gain confidence from tonight. When he scores it’s good for him and the team.”

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