RC Lens will not have believed it for long. Franck Haise’s men knew that after PSV Eindhoven’s victory at Sevilla FC (2-3), they had to achieve an exploit at Arsenal to keep their chance of qualifying for the round of 16 of the Champions League. But the feat will not take place. The Lensois took the water at the Emirates in the first half hour to find themselves trailing by 4 goals before the 27th minute of play, then by 5 goals at half-time.
Kai Havertz was the first to break through the northern defense on a deflection from Gabriel Jesus’ head. A time suspected of being offside, the Brazilian was on the limit but well in a legal position before serving his partner alone against Brice Samba. Arsenal’s number 9, untenable, offered himself the goal of the break alone in the 20th minute of play. After recovering a missed tackle from Danso, Jesus followed up with a feint strike which brought the entire defense to the ground before deceiving Samba, once again abandoned by his team (2-0, 20th).
Lens cracks 4 times in less than 15 minutes
Still in the match before the second goal, Elye Wahi’s teammates completely collapsed. Barely three minutes later, on a high recovery from Havertz, Martinelli came to fix the defense before curling his shot from the right. Samba’s parade ends at the feet of Saka who just has to push into the back of the net, under the eyes of a stunned Franck Haise (3-0, 23rd). But the ordeal was not yet over.
The same Martinelli on his left side this time finished the job alone after a series of hooks at the entrance to the area. His flat foot found the small net of the Lensois goals to shower, if there was still need, the last Lensois hopes. The northern club this Wednesday became the second French team to concede 4 goals in the first 30 minutes of a Champions League match, after its neighbor Lille on November 7, 2012 against Bayern Munich (also 4-0, 6-1 finally).
The nightmare of the first half ended in added time with a school counter-attack concluded by a perfect volley from Martin Odegaard. An unexpected defensive breakdown. In the last five championship matches, the Lensois had not conceded a single goal.
Opposite, Mikel Arteta’s men took revenge for the first leg during which they had not realized their chance of a break before being surprised by the fury of Bollaert and conceding an avoidable defeat. This time, there will be no defeat for Arsenal. And there will be no 8th place in the Champions League for RC Lens either.