PSV vs Arsenal result and Europa League final score as Xavi Simons and Cody Gakpo shine


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Ruud van Nistelrooy has a habit of ending Arsenal’s unbeaten runs. Some 18 years after he condemned the Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles to a first defeat in 50 league matches, his PSV Eindhoven side found frailties in Mikel Arteta’s young Gunners.

A first loss in 10 games may not prevent them from topping the group and skipping the Europa League’s February fixtures, though a win over FC Zurich next week is now required to guaranteed top spot. But the cause for concern came instead from a shocking second-half display. This was much Arsenal’s worst performance of the season. Factor in Sunday’s draw at Southampton and their campaign has its first wobble.

All of which felt more painful, given the identity of their conqueror. Much as in the early 2000s, Van Nistelrooy could celebrate victory over Vieira; not that Fabio Vieira was any more blameworthy than many of his team-mates. But the only teams to beat Arsenal this season are Manchester United and PSV, which Van Nistelrooy may find doubly pleasing, and the Dutch team were the more emphatic winners.

They had the counter-attacking verve, the youthful brio, the talents destined for brighter futures and if those descriptions could be applied to Arsenal for much of this campaign, they were overwhelmed and overcome. As was the case in the early 2000s, they found their nemesis in a battle-hardened Dutch striker, and not just the one overseeing procedures from the PSV dugout. Van Nistelrooy made a hugely influential substitution at half-time, replacing the ineffectual Anwar El Ghazi with the catalytic Luuk de Jong and PSV soon turned threat into goals.

Briefly and infamously of Barcelona, back at PSV, De Jong held off Rob Holding to set up Joey Veerman, whose shot flashed past Aaron Ramsdale for the opener. Playing because Matt Turner was injured, Ramsdale’s belated European debut became a chastening affair as he was culpable for the second. The goalkeeper punched thin air after an ill-judged foray off his line as De Jong headed in Cody Gakpo’s corner. He had to retrieve the ball from his net five times, even if only two counted.

Exciting, emerging attackers have powered Arsenal this season but it was a night to show Arteta does not have a monopoly on them. Van Nistelrooy’s twin wingers were terrific. PSV’s three disallowed goals illustrated the prodigious talent in their ranks even if two indicated that Gakpo, with his blistering speed, does not need to stray offside. He displayed eviscerating pace and precocious assurance to sprint clear and dink a shot over Ramsdale in the first half. He hooked in a shot in the second. In each case, he had begun his run too soon. His manager was long a master at lingering offside and then coming onside at the appropriate moment, and Gakpo could learn from him.

Another reprieve came courtesy of VAR. Xavi Simons may take second billing to Gakpo but the teenager could have brought up a fifth brace of the season before half-time. Ramsdale began by clawing away the winger’s low drive, but Simons beat him when he displayed the close control and elusiveness to wriggle away from Kieran Tierney, Martin Odegaard and Rob Holding to slide a shot under the goalkeeper. The celebrations lasted longer this time, before El Ghazi was ruled offside for his part in the build-up.

Andre Ramalho and Joey Veerman of PSV Eindhoven celebrate

(EPA)

Simons’ evening also included a defence-splitting pass, when Gakpo fizzed an effort wide. Tierney was reduced to unceremoniously hauling him back, collecting a caution in the process. Simons departed with a booking of his own, for a flare-up with Granit Xhaka, and with the PSV Stadion echoing to the sound of his name. He was outstanding, the game’s most compelling performer, exuding the confidence to take on Arsenal and possessing the skill to torment them.

PSV’s Luuk de Jong, right, celebrates with Ibrahim Sangare after scoring

(AP)

Arsenal lacked his impudence and his incision. Arteta had attempted a classic Europa League half-and-half selection, and five of this side are unlikely to start against Nottingham Forest on Sunday, but while the overworked pair of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Jesus began on the bench, they were missed.

Xavi Simons of PSV Eindhoven is challenged by Kieran Tierney of Arsenal

(Getty Images)

Gabriel Martinelli did start and could have marked a century of Arsenal appearances with a 23th goal, directing an acrobatic volley over the bar. After Saka and Jesus had been summoned, Eddie Nketiah drew a fine save from Walter Benitez but, for the first time this season, Arsenal failed to score. A one-off or a sign of things to come?



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