FC Zurich did not suffer as much as they might have feared for their entry into the group stage of the Europa League.
Vaillant, the reigning Swiss champion nevertheless lost (2-1) to Premier League leader Arsenal in Group A.
‘Exiled’ to St-Gall due to the Weltklasse meeting disputed at Letzigrund, the players of coach Franco Foda were under no illusions for long. They conceded the opener in the 16th minute on a breaking action concluded quietly and soberly by the young Brazilian Marquinhos (19).
But Captain Granit Xhaka’s ‘Gunners’ then rested on their laurels. And the FCZ took the opportunity to equalize just before half-time, Mirlind Kryeziu transforming in the 44th a penalty obtained for a foul by Eddie Nketiah on Fidan Aliti, taking Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner on the wrong foot.
The Londoners, however, entered the second half with better intentions, which was preceded by a minute of silence observed in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. A new dominators, they saw their efforts rewarded in the 62nd on a returning cross from Marquinhos taken from the head by a revengeful Nketiah.
In Norway next Thursday
Not really in business with the 2-1 action, FCZ goalkeeper Yanick Brecher then kept his team in the game. His partners pushed so much and more at the end of the match but without managing to really worry Arsenal, who did not however align their standard team Thursday evening on St. Gallen soil.
Zurich will continue their European adventure next Thursday in Norway against Bodö/Glimt, who drew 1-1 in Eindhoven on Thursday. Until then, FCZ will seek to rebuild their health in the Super League, where they have only obtained 2 points in five matches. But the trip on Sunday, on the lawn of Servette, promises to be perilous.