Saka revels in dream Arsenal debut as young guns shine in Europe

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) and teenage forward Bukayo Saka celebrate after scoring against Frankfurt on Thursday. (AFP/dpa pic)

LONDON: Teenage forward Bukayo Saka said it was a “dream come true” to score his first Arsenal goal as he helped inspire them to a convincing 3-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.

Making only his second senior start on Thursday, Saka troubled the German team’s defence with his pace and skill on the left wing and was rewarded for his effort when he found the net with a clinical finish from 20 yards in the 85th minute.

The England under-19 international also displayed his playmaking skills with two assists for goal scorers Joe Willock and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to cap a memorable night for the youngster.

“I’m so happy to score for Arsenal,” the 18-year-old told reporters after the match. “It’s a dream come true – I have been dreaming of this moment since I was a kid.

“I just want to keep working hard to make sure I can feel this feeling again.”

Saka’s goal made him the youngest player to score for Arsenal in European competition since Oct 2008, when a 17-year-old Aaron Ramsey found the net against Turkey’s Fenerbahce.

It was also a night to remember for another emerging English talent as 17-year-old Mason Greenwood became the first player born in the 2000s to score for Manchester United, in a 1-0 win over Kazakh champions Astana.

Saka was part of a lively attacking midfield alongside fellow academy graduates Willock, 20, and Emile Smith Rowe, 19. Arsenal manager Unai Emery was impressed with their display.

“Maybe with his (Saka’s) goal and performance, he was taking confidence. He was finishing really strong,” Emery said.

“After his injury, tonight he (Emile) played for the first time this season and he worked well. Willock started a little slow at the beginning but progressively he was feeling very better with a good performance.”