LONDON: French striker Yaya Sanogo scored four times as Arsenal crushed Portuguese champions Benfica 5-1 at the Emirates Cup friendly tournament in London yesterday.
The 21-year-old, who has never scored a competitive goal for the club, claimed a first-half hat-trick and added another goal in the second half to upstage star signing Alexis Sanchez, who made his first appearance as a late substitute.
Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell, back at Arsenal after three seasons out on loan, scored the hosts’ other goal, with Nicolas Gaitan replying for Europa League runners-up Benfica.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hailed Sanogo and Campbell, 22, for their displays and said that he did not intend to send either of them out on loan this season.
“They need to play, of course, but they need to play here,” he said.
“Sanogo came here last year on a free (transfer) and we worked very hard for six months with him, and from January onwards he was slowly getting better. Now we want him to stay here.”
Wenger added: “It’s very difficult to draw any conclusions after a game like that. But for long spells we played the way we want to play football, and that’s the most positive thing.”
The game at the Emirates Stadium here followed the 2-2 draw between Valencia and Monaco in the first match of
the four-team friendly competition, which concludes today.
Wenger used the occasion to cast his eye over some fringe players, with new signing Calum Chambers — formerly of Southampton — starting in an unfamiliar position at centre-back alongside fellow full-back Nacho Monreal.
After Campbell had seen an early penalty claim waved away, Gaitan gave Arsenal a scare with an adroit half-volley that skimmed the crossbar.
But after Campbell had
scuffed wide from Aaron Ramsey’s dinked pass and Sanogo had steered a low Hector Bellerin cross the wrong side of the near post, the hosts clicked into gear in devastating fashion.
Sanogo broke the deadlock in the 26th minute with a clever back-heeled finish from Ramsey’s right-wing cross.
The adventurous Bellerin then teed up Campbell to bludgeon home a left-foot volley in the 40th minute.
Improbably, there was time for Sanogo to complete his hat-trick before the interval.
He tucked away a volleyed cross from Campbell in the 44th minute and then flicked in a centre from Kieran Gibbs at the second attempt in stoppage time.
The towering former Auxerre striker claimed his fourth four minutes into the second period, rolling the ball into an empty net after Benfica goalkeeper Artur Moraes had parried from Ramsey.
Gaitan headed in from a long throw-in with half an hour remaining, but Arsenal’s fans were given further reason to cheer when Chile forward Sanchez replaced Campbell to make his debut following his switch from Barcelona for a fee of around £30m ($50.4m).
Arsenal’s new number 17 almost created a goal for fellow substitute Francis Coquelin in injury time, but the French midfielder’s shot came back off the post.
Arsenal play Monaco on Sunday before facing Manchester City in the Community Shield next weekend, while Benfica will close the tournament against Valencia.
“The quality of Arsenal’s
players exceeded our expectations,” said beaten coach Jorge Jesus.
“The difference in today’s game was the defensive side. We were close to what we were last year on the offensive side, but defensively, we were very far from what we want to be.”