2017 Emirates Cup
  • Theo Walcott (24', 32')
  • Lisandro López (52' OG)
  • Olivier Giroud (64')
  • Alex Iwobi (70')
  • Franco Cervi (11')
  • Eduardo Salvio (39')

Theo Walcott brace leads Arsenal to Emirates Cup win over Benfica

LONDON -- Theo Walcott scored two goals and created a third as Arsenal began the Emirates Cup with an entertaining 5-2 win over Benfica on Saturday.

The Gunners went behind to an early goal from Franco Cervi, but Walcott put them in front by volleying home a cross from new signing Sead Kolasinac in the 24th minute and then scoring into an open net in the 33rd.

Benfica levelled through Eduardo Salvio before the break, but Walcott helped restore the Gunners' lead for good as his cross for Olivier Giroud was steered into the Benfica net by Lisandro for an own goal.

Arsenal then added some polish to the win as Giroud acrobatically volleyed in a perfect cross from 17-year-old Reiss Nelson and Alex Iwobi hammered home a hard strike into the roof of the net.

This was the first of two games in two days for the Gunners in their traditional preseason tournament at the Emirates, and Arsene Wenger did not start most of his firepower - including new record signing Alexandre Lacazette and star playmaker Mesut Ozil.

That gave Walcott the chance to show he can function well as one of the two attacking midfielders playing behind the striker, and the pacey forward took full advantage. He nearly completed his hat trick in the second half but sent a shot well high -- the only blemish on an otherwise productive afternoon.

Kolasinac also impressed in his first appearance at the Emirates, using his strength to hold off a defender before sending a chipped cross in for Walcott for Arsenal's first goal. He also played a part in the build-up to Walcott's second and made frequent raids down the flank to show he can be a good fit in a wing-back role.

The only negative for the Gunners was Francis Coquelin having to come off with an injury after assisting Walcott for the second goal.

Lacazette eventually made his home debut to a large ovation as Wenger made mass changes for the final 15 minutes, but should get more time to impress the home in Sunday's meeting with Sevilla.

In the early game, Sevilla beat RB Leipzig 1-0 thanks to a penalty from Wissam Ben Yedder.