Arsenal 5-2 Benfica: Emirates Cup friendly – as it happened

Theo Walcott scored twice in the first half before Olivier Giroud, Alex Iwobi and a Lisandro López own goal sealed an emphatic pre-season victory

So after an end-to-end first half with two Theo Walcott goals, but shoddy defending allowing Benfica to go in at 2-2, Arsenal moved through the gears in the second half to record an impressive pre-season result.

Lisandro Lopez’s unfortunate own goal put Arsenal back in front, with fine strikes from Olivier Giroud and Alex Iwobi adding gloss. Arsène Wenger will be feeling better about the Sánchez situation after that attacking display.

Arsenal take on Sevilla tomorrow – you can join Rob Smyth for that one. Next up on Quest, it’s Wheeler Dealers. Thanks for joining me. Bye!

Full time: Arsenal 5-2 Benfica

That’s that. Arsenal win, and in some style!

89 mins: Raul Jimenez barrels into the Arsenal defence and wins a corner, but Arsenal clear. There won’t be any injury time...

88 mins: This Benfica defence will be looking forward to the final whistle. Arsenal have been rampant in the second half.

87 mins: Oxlade-Chamberlain is given space on the right, and his long-range cross finds Giroud, whose cut-back is headed clear.

85 mins: Kolasinac continues to make a nuisance of himself down the left, where he has pushed up to wing-back since Monreal’s arrival. Lacazette collects a pass from the Bosnian, but his inswinging cross drifts through to Cesar.

84 mins: Admirable bullishness here that definitely won’t age badly:

82 mins: Jimenez rolls past Oxlade-Chamberlain’s rather limp challenge and fizzes a shot just wide of the far corner. Giroud is limping after a heavy challenge at the other end, but Arsenal have used all their subs.


80 mins: Chrien’s cross is headed away by Monreal, and lands at the feet of Jimenez – but his mishit shot trickles wide.


78 mins: There’s been a scrappy period of play as both sides try to adjust to their new set-ups. Lacazette looks to be playing just off Giroud, rather than alongside him.

76 mins: Quick thought – I know this is a friendly, but those substitutions took almost five minutes, none of which will be added to injury time. IFAB are reportedly considering the introduction of clock stoppages – wouldn’t substitutions be a good place to start?

74 mins: Wenger makes five changes in one go. Off: Xhaka, Iwobi, Nelson, Walcott and Maitland-Niles. On: Ramsey, Ozil, Monreal, Oxlade-Chamberlain... and Alex Lacazette!

72 mins: Pizzi, probably Benfica’s best attacking performer, forces Ospina into a save low to his left with an angled snap shot. It’s his last involvement, as he’s replaced by Ruben Dias. Mexico’s Raul Jiménez is on up front, replacing Seferovic.


GOAL! Arsenal 5-2 Benfica (Iwobi 70')

Arsenal really burning through the gears now, as Kolasinac cuts the ball back to Giroud, who lays the ball off smartly to Iwobi. He takes a touch and powers a shot past Cesar, and into the roof of the net!

Alex Iwobi celebrates scoring the fifth.
Alex Iwobi celebrates scoring the fifth. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Action Images/Reuters


68 mins: Nifty interplay affords Maitland-Niles a little space on the left, and his cross is volleyed on target by Giroud. Cesar is down quickly to turn the ball away.

67 mins: Nelson has been really impressive down the right – it will be interesting to see if he gets any Premier League action in the coming weeks. He’s caused both Eliseu and Grimaldo no end of problems.

65 mins: Salvio has a half-chance at the other end, but scuffs a shot that Ospina collects comfortably.

GOAL! Arsenal 4-2 Benfica (Giroud 64')

A beauty of a cross from Reiss Nelson, cutting back onto his left and curling the ball into Giroud’s path. The striker could have headed it, but instead hooks the ball back across goal with his left foot. Lovely stuff.

Olivier Giroud hooks the ball back across the goal to score.
Olivier Giroud hooks the ball back across the goal to score. Photograph: Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images


62 mins: Xhaka appears to be carrying a slight ankle knock – not ideal with Coquelin already off with a similar injury. Giroud and Iwobi combine on the edge of the Benfica box, before the latter is dispossessed.

60 mins: Rui Vitoria makes three changes – Rafa Silva replaces Jonas, Alex Grimaldo is for Eliseu at left-back, and Slovakian prospect Martin Chrien, signed this summer from Viktoria Plzen, replaces goalscorer Cervi.

57 mins: Walcott should have had his hat-trick here! The impressive Nelson slots a low cross to Giroud. He turns his man and lays the ball off to Walcott, who takes a touch to make sure – then blazes over from three yards out. Oh Theo!

Walcott blazes over from closer range.
Walcott blazes over from closer range. Photograph: Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images


56 mins: If the scoreline stays like this, Arsenal will have six points – three for the win, and one for each goal. Sevilla, tomorrow’s opponents, will have four. Exciting stuff.

“Two goals for Theo Walcott already” says Charles Antaki. “Where has Arsène Wenger been hiding this young gem?”

I’m prepared to stand up for Walcott, as every time I watch him, he plays really well. I’m also prepared to accept this clearly isn’t always the case.

GOAL! Arsenal 3-2 Benfica (Lopez own goal 52')

It’s cleared but is swiftly returned to Walcott, who is being played onside. His cross towards Giroud is cut out by a stretching Lisandro Lopez – but the ball skids in off the near post!

Walcott and Iwobi celebrate after the third was scored by Benfica’s Lisandro Lopez.
Walcott and Iwobi celebrate after the third was scored by Benfica’s Lisandro Lopez. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Action Images/Reuters


51 mins: Augusto handles the ball as Nelson tries to flick it past him. Arsenal free kick, from which Nelson digs out an awkward, curling cross...

49 mins: Salvio’s pass slices through the Arsenal back three and finds Seferovic, who cuts the ball back across the six-yard box. Unfortunately for Benfica, nobody in a red shirt is anywhere near him.

47 mins: Salvio causes more problems down the right but sees his cross clear. Arsenal break and Iwobi races down the touchline – but his cross towards Giroud is caught by Julio Cesar.

We're back

Calum Chambers replaces Rob Holding in the only Arsenal half-time change. For Benfica, Lisandro López replaces Jardel in central defence. Both teams can make seven subs in total.

Quest are padding out half-time with a quick guide to French polishing. Sky Sports, take note. Use a 50-50 varnish mix, take it steady and buff the dry surface, is the gist. I hadn’t thought about French polishing for a good 20 years.

It would be remiss of me not to mention that Arsenal offered 400 London firefighters and their families tickets to this weekend’s football, as a gesture of appreciation after the Grenfell Tower fire in June.

“Heroic is a word we will often hear in a football context but these brave men and women truly embody what it means to be a hero,” Wenger wrote in today’s matchday programme.

Half time: Arsenal 2-2 Benfica

A lively encounter so far, with Arsenal scoring two artfully constructed goals, but conceding twice as their defence has let them down. It’s like football never went away. More soon.

44 mins: One last foray forward from Arsenal, Maitland-Niles turning his marker before racing forward, but he’s outnumbered in the Benfica penalty area. One minute of added time.

42 mins: Benfica are pinging the ball around among themselves as we tick down towards half-time.

GOAL! Arsenal 2-2 Benfica (Salvio 39')

More abject Arsenal defending as they try to pass it around at the back – but Maitland-Niles gives it away and Pizzi’s diagonal ball deflects into Eduardo Salvio’s path. He drills the ball beyond Ospina, via another slight deflection, and we’re level again!

Eduardo Salvio drills the ball past David Ospina for the Benfica equaliser.
Eduardo Salvio drills the ball past David Ospina for the Benfica equaliser. Photograph: Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images


38 mins: Kolasinac barrels down the left again, before picking out Elneny, who tries to find Walcott in space but badly overhits his pass.

37 mins: The rain continues to pour in North London, and we’re being treated to the season’s first shots of a sodden Arsène Wenger pacing the touchline.


35 mins: Holding is robbed cheaply 30 yards out, and Pizzi exchanges passes with Cervi before firing a shot on goal that Ospina gets down to parry away.

34 mins: An early change as Coquelin is replaced, unable to run off that ankle injury despite that assist moments ago. Mohamed Elneny comes on in his place.

GOAL! Arsenal 2-1 Benfica (Walcott 32')

Lovely goal, and Theo Walcott’s second of the match. Kolasinac is involved again, playing a one-two with Coquelin, who strides beyond the Benfica defence and crosses for Walcott, who can’t miss.

Theo Walcott celebrates scoring his second.
Theo Walcott celebrates scoring his second. Photograph: Hannah Mckay/Reuters


30 mins: Benfica enjoy a spell in the Arsenal half, before Pizzi’s lofted pass is nodded clear by Mertesacker.


28 mins: Walcott’s free kick thuds into the wall, and Jardel gets a boot to Xhaka’s follow-up effort.

Theo Walcott is brought down just outside the box by Benfica’s Eliseu.
Theo Walcott is brought down just outside the box by Benfica’s Eliseu. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA


26 mins: Giroud turns smartly in the centre circle and drills a through ball into Walcott’s path. Eliseu is beaten for pace, and brings Walcott down on the edge of the area! The left-back is booked for his trouble.

25 mins: Kolasinac gets back to harry Buta off the ball. He’s going to fit right into the Premier League, I’ll wager.

GOAL! Arsenal 1-1 Benfica (Walcott 23')

Arsenal are back on terms, Kolasinac racing onto Iwobi’s pass, forcing Pizzi off the ball at the byline and lifting a cross to Walcott, who hammers it past Julio Cesar!

Theo Walcott fires in the equaliser.
Theo Walcott fires in the equaliser. Photograph: Hannah Mckay/Reuters


22 mins: There’s a big old Benfica contingent making all the noise inside the stadium. “Not exactly Lisbon weather” notes Kevin Keatings, who clearly didn’t visit Lisbon on the same weekend as me.

20 mins: Eliseu is found wanting again, bullied off the ball by Coquelin, who stays down after the challenge. Walcott finds space on the right of the area, but drags his shot wide anyway.

18 mins: 17-year-old Reiss Nelson has been Arsenal’s standout player so far, causing Eliseu plenty of problems down Benfica’s left.

16 mins: Salvio gets the better of Kolasinac down the right, and looks to have been hold, but the referee waves his appeals away, perhaps swayed by his theatrical fall.

14 mins: An early goal, and a decent tempo so far. Giroud is flagged for a sneaky foul on Luisao, and mithers about it for some time.

“If Arsenal manage to follow-up their stunning victory in the International Champions’ Cup in China with yet more silverware here, I’ll wager there’ll be a certain Alexis Sánchez sitting at home feeling quite the fool” writes Raja Dasgupta.

GOAL! Arsenal 0-1 Benfica (Cervi 11')

Cervi makes immediate amends, collecting Jonas’ smart downward header from Pizzi’s through ball and firing in a left-footed shot. It takes a deflection off both of Mertesacker’s legs and beats Ospina at the near post!

Benfica’s Franco Cervi scores the opener.
Benfica’s Franco Cervi scores the opener. Photograph: Hannah Mckay/Reuters


9 mins: Jonas takes a quick throw down the left flank towards Franco Cervi, who offers an early contender for the worst cross of the season.

7 mins: Rob Holding is penalised for, well, holding Haris Seferovic. The Swiss striker is playing up top alongside Jonas, after signing from Frankfurt this summer.

5 mins: Julio Cesar hurt his knee making that acrobatic save, but is OK to continue. Remember when he played for QPR? That was a scene.

4 mins: Early chance for Arsenal! Reiss Nelson does nicely to make space on the right, and whips in a cross which is cleared to Xhaka. His header into the area is flicked on by Walcott, and Giroud should score from six yards – but his header is palmed away by Julio Cesar.

2 mins: Arsenal’s back three knock the ball around before Rob Holding launches the ball towards Walcott, starting the match tucked in behind Giroud, but he can’t get it under control.

We're off!

Arsenal are in their electric blue away kit. Modern football, eh. Olivier Giroud is sent to the sideline to remove an errant piece of jewellery before he can kick off. This referee isn’t taking it easy.


We have live pictures from a wet and windy Emirates Stadium. It begins abruptly with a shot of Wenger wandering around in the tunnel, and no audio. I’m not sure Quest have a future in live sport.

Yedu Prasad is first with the correct answer: “The man. The legend. The player that one Ajax assistant coach described as having ‘no noticeable skills’. Yaya Sanogo!”


Luke Forrester has made my day with this. “Pay Özil whatever he wants to get him to stay. It’s worth it for these precious moments.” The trouble is, he goes missing for the voyages that matter.

Forgive the lack of pre-match build-up – this game’s being shown on Freeview channel Quest. In lieu of presenters or analysts, they’ve stuck on a documentary about how skis are made.

Here’s a pop quiz: Arsenal beat Benfica 5-1 in the Emirates Cup back in 2014. Who scored four of Arsenal’s five goals?

The season starts here...

“A back four for Benfica today, I see,” notes Woolie Madden, “which is just as well as I’ve seen right-back Buta spread a bit thin in the past.”


The first game of the Emirates Cup has just finished, with Sevilla beating RB Leipzig 1-0 thanks to Wassim Ben Yedder’s penalty. Naby Keïta started for Leipzig in a match that was, by all accounts, not a classic. If Arsenal win this afternoon, the game against Sevilla tomorrow will basically become the final.

Wissam Ben Yedder scores the winning penalty for Sevilla.
Wissam Ben Yedder scores the winning penalty for Sevilla. Photograph: TGSPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

The teams

Arsenal: Ospina; Holding, Mertesacker, Kolasinac; Nelson, Coquelin, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Iwobi, Walcott; Giroud.
Subs from: Martínez, Koscielny, Monreal, Chambers, Bellerín, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Elneny, Özil, Lacazette, Welbeck.

Benfica: Julio César; Buta, Luisão, Jardel, Eliseu; Salvio, Augusto, Pizzi, Cervi; Jonas, Seferovic.
Subs from: Lisandro Lopez, Grimaldo, Horta, Jiménez, Carrillo, Pereira, Willock, Silva, Varela, Chrien, Dias.


Arsenal team news! Lacazette is on the bench, but Kolasinac starts in a back three with Per Mertesacker and Rob Holding. Youngsters Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson will operate as wing-backs in a 3-4-2-1, with Olivier Giroud up front.



Here we go again, then. Arsenal continue their preparation for the impending return of the Premier League in the Emirates Cup, the tournament they created, host and occasionally even win.

Arsène Wenger could certainly do with a shot of pre-season optimism. The Alexis Sánchez saga has dragged on all summer, with the forward’s latest hangdog look a new low, and a tricky early fixture list that includes a Friday night Premier League opener at home to Leicester City and trips to Chelsea, Liverpool and Stoke City.
Home fans will likely get their first chance to huff indignantly at new signings Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac against Benfica this afternoon. The Portuguese side won their fourth league title in a row last season but have suffered another summer of upheaval, losing Ederson, Victor Lindelof and Rúben Semedo.

Recent friendly defeats to Young Boys and Hull City may not bode well, but one new Benfica signing will have a point to prove: Chris Willock, the teenager plucked from Arsenal’s academy this summer. Kick-off is at 4.20pm, BST.