Oezil shines on return as Arsenal crush PSG

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(Mesut Oezil 13, Alexandre Lacazette 67, 71,  Rob Holding 87, Eddie Nketiah 90+4 ) (Christopher Nkunku 60-pen)

Mesut Oezil enjoyed a successful return to action at the end of a tumultuous week as the German midfielder scored the opening goal for Arsenal in a 5-1 victory over a makeshift Paris St Germain side in an International Champions Cup match in Singapore on Saturday.

Oezil sensationally quit the national side last Sunday citing “racism and disrespect” for his Turkish roots as he bore the brunt of criticism following Germany’s disastrous World Cup , but he looked relaxed and focused against the French champions.

Arsenal fielded a strong team with Oezil installed as captain and the English Premier League side soon took control against weakened opposition, given the time and space they will not be afforded when the domestic campaign kicks off next month.

The German did not need long to stamp his authority on the contest, side-footing past a stranded Gianluigi Buffon in the 13th minute after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had raced clear down the right and sent a pinpoint low cross into Oezil’s path.

The Gunners were utterly dominant and should have added to their tally, but Buffon showed the brilliance that earned him 176 caps for Italy, saving well to deny Alex Iwobi, Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan when they were all clean through on goal.

The French champions offered little in a tepid first-half display, midfielder Azzedine Toufiqui twice curling shots wide of Bernd Leno’s right-hand post before the German keeper stood firm to block Timothy Weah’s powerful shot in the 34th minute.

Christopher Nkunku produced Paris St Germain’s best moment of the half shortly before the break when the French midfielder jinked past three Arsenal defenders before sending a rising shot just over the Arsenal crossbar.

Paris St Germain made a much stronger start to the second half and Nkunku soon tested replacement goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez with a stinging free-kick from the edge of the penalty area that the Argentinian parried clear with a diving punch.

Nkunku was not to be denied from the penalty spot, however, sending Martinez the wrong way with a spot-kick awarded on the advice of the assistant referee after Weah had tumbled following a clumsy Sead Kolasinac challenge.

The 60th-minute strike was reward for Paris St Germain’s endeavour but they were level for only seven minutes as substitute Alexandre Lacazette scooped a sublime finish over Buffon from close range to re-establish Arsenal’s advantage.

The Frenchman needed just three more minutes to double his personal tally when Buffon missed a punch as Paris St Germain scrambled to clear, leaving an unmarked Lacazette to make it 3-1 with a free header that bounced in off the post.

Defender Rob Holding and striker Eddie Nketiah rounded out the scoring in the dying minutes as a rampant Arsenal thrilled their fans who had a strong presence among the 50,308 spectators, and more than made up for a disappointing penalty shoot-out defeat by Atletico Madrid in the tournament opener on Thursday.

Paris St Germain, who will welcome back a raft of World Cup players next week, take on the Spanish Europa League winners in the final match of the event on Monday. – REUTERS

mesut oezilarsenal2018 International Champions Cup SingaporeParis Saint-Germain