Orlando City 1-3 Arsenal: Second-half strikes from Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson seal win for Gunners after Gabriel Martinelli’s early effort was cancelled out by Facundo Torres
- Arsenal faced Orlando City in Florida in the third match of their American tour
- Kick-off was delayed by an hour due to thunderstorms in the area
- Gabriel Martinelli gave the Gunners an early lead once the game did start
- Facundo Torres equalised for the host just before the half an hour mark
- Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson then struck in the second half for Gunners
After all of the chatter and all of the excitement about expensive signings, a win secured by those reared in-house.
With 24 minutes left of this friendly, Arsenal were being held by Orlando City. Gabriel Martinelli’s opener had been cancelled out by Facundo Torres in the second match of their US tour. By the end, though, Mikel Arteta’s side had run out 3-1 winners, thanks to goals from academy graduates Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson – the latter assisted by fellow Hale End alumni, Bukayo Saka.
Watching on from the stands in Orlando was Oleksandr Zinchenko. His £32million arrival should be confirmed in the coming days ahead of Saturday’s final game against Chelsea.
Eddie Nketiah scored what proved to be the winner for Arsenal in the second half
The Ukrainian was made to wait to see his new team-mates in the flesh after storms struck Orlando shortly before kick-off. The heavens opened, lightning strikes lit up the dark skies and kick-off was put back an hour.
Even then, the Ukrainian had to sit tight before most of Arteta’s first-choice XI came off the bench. With the exception of No 1 Aaron Ramsdale, Arsenal started with a second-string side.
Not that it hampered them early on. After only five minutes, Martinelli played a one-two with Albert Sambi Lokonga and curled an effort at goal from inside the area. It took a wicked deflection that wrong-footed Pedro Gallese in goal.
Alas, Orlando were arguably then the more dangerous team before half-time. They should have levelled when Benji Michel ran through a vast hole in the Arsenal back four, only for Ramsdale to make an important save.
Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli (second left) gave Arsenal an early lead in Florida
Facundo Torres equalised for the hosts just before the half-hour mark
The home side did equalise on the half-hour when Facundo Torres cut inside Nuno Tavares and Pablo Mari before firing inside Ramsdale’s left-hand post.
As in victory against Everton, Arteta rung the changes at the break, bringing on the likes of Martin Odegaard, Ben White and Gabriel Jesus.
The latter immediately took Arsenal into another gear. His pace and movement caused havoc and he looked the most likely to re-establish Arsenal’s lead. Instead it was Nketiah. Odegaard created the chance with a neat ball into Jesus, who drove towards goal and tried to turn inside the area.
When the Brazilian was clattered, the ball broke to Nketiah, who stroked the ball home.
Nelson then made sure of the win late on, turning home Bukayo Saka’s low cross shortly after coming on.
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