LONDON (Reuters) – Arsenal qualified for the Europa League knockout stage with two group games to spare after Granit Xhaka’s second-half goal secured a 1-0 win over PSV Eindhoven at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday.
Victory in the rescheduled match, postponed last month following the death of Queen Elizabeth, means Arsenal will finish in the top two in Group A having maintained their perfect start after four games.
The hosts endured a frustrating first half as they dominated proceedings, and had nine shots to PSV’s one, but struggled to create clear chances and did not trouble visiting goalkeeper Walter Benitez.
Arsenal made a slow start to the second half before Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus all came close to breaking the deadlock, with Xhaka finally giving Mikel Arteta’s side a deserved lead in the 71st minute.
Substitute Martin Odegaard played the ball wide right to Takehiro Tomiyasu who found an unmarked Xhaka and the Swiss midfielder swung a half-volley past Benitez for his third goal of the season in all competitions.
Arsenal sit top of Group A with 12 points, five more than second-placed PSV, with the result putting them on the cusp of sealing top spot.
The group winners secure an automatic last-16 spot while the runners-up face one of the third-placed teams dropping down from the Champions League in a two-legged playoff tie in February.
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)