Sanogo - often the brunt of jokes for his limited goalscoring record - did not grab his quartet of goals in spectacular fashion. All had an element of comedy or pure farce about them, but nonetheless did at least prove that he was in the right areas to score. First he clumsily backheeled a ball in from the always impressive Aaron Ramsey; then he tapped Joel Campbell’s pass home from extremely close range after Benfica’s failure to understand the second-phase element of the offside law became evident; and he followed that on the stroke of half-time by sneaking into the box and prodding past the onrushing and helpless Artur.
Campbell himself had added the other first-half goal, on 40 minutes, with a beautiful finish on the volley after Hector Bellerin played him in with a tremendous ball.
Arsenal had spent the first half putting together some very aesthetically pleasing moves; and the new evidence of firepower to convert the chances will have been equally pleasing to the fans.
Sanogo added his fourth shortly after the break with a sharp finish, showing his alertness to pounce on the rebound from Campbell’s parried shot. He demonstrated his glee then by heading out towards the stand to high-five the cheering fans - but as always there was an element of ridiculousness mixed in with it all as he slipped over by the corner flag.
Benfica pulled back a consolation goal just after the hour mark when Nicolas Gaitan beat the Arsenal defence to head home.
If Arsenal fans were gloomy at the spoiling of their party, it did not last for long, with festivities breaking out around the ground to herald the arrival of Alexis Sanchez, a substitute for the last 18 minutes, and already looking very at home.
Arsenal - Martinez, Bellerin, Chambers, Monreal, Gibbs, Flamini, Campbell, Ramsey, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanogo. Subs: Szczesny, Debuchy, Koscielny, Arteta, Wilshere, Giroud, Sanchez, Cazorla, Coquelin, Akpom, Miquel.
Benfica - Artur, Amorim, Gaitan, Lima, Pereira, John, Salvio, Eliseu, Sidnei, Talisca, Cesar. Subs: Derley, Lopes, Jara, Benito, Cancelo, Bebe, Almeida, Felipe, Candeias, Lindelof, Texeira.
MAN OF THE MATCH
It might seem churlish not to give the man of the match nod to the one who scored four goals, but Aaron Ramsey was the stand-out player - classy, cool, creative and composed for his hour-long interlude.
10' CHANCE! Great volley from Gaitan! He hits it quickly and Martinez is fortunate that strikes his bar and flies over because Benfica had men left over to snaffle up any rebounds.
25' GOAL! Well, that will put paid to the jokes and snark - for the time being at least. Sanogo attempts a little back heel, slightly clumsily executed, and it's the conversion of some terrific running by Ramsey.
40' GOAL! Joel Campbell doubles the advantage with a beautiful left-footed finish from a gorgeous ball in from Bellerin.
44' GOAL! Bizarre stuff here from Benfica, who don't seem to understand the second phase element of the offside law. Sanogo has his shot blocked (a poor shot, to be honest), and Ramsey loops the ball out to Campbell, who nudges it back in for Sanogo to convert from about three centimetres out.
45' GOAL! A hat-trick for Sanogo. He looks as amused as anybody else. More great play down the left, and when he finds his place in the box he stretches to tip it past the onrushing goalkeeper.
49' GOAL! My goodness. That’s a fourth for Yaya Sanogo, and a sharp finish from him as he taps in the rebound from Joel Campbell’s parried shot. He promptly embarks on a veritable lap of honour.
62' GOAL! One back for Benfica. Martinez looks disappointed as Gaitan rises to beat the defence to head home from a long throw.
90' CLOSE! So close! Alexis's great work leaves space for Coquelin, who's calling for the cut back, but his shot hits the post and there's nobody there to follow up.
The arrival of Alexis Sanchez was never going to take second billing, although Yaya Sanogo certainly did his best to grab the limelight away from him. The new arrival looked as if he was thoroughly settled in, tweeting pictures of himself with Joel Campbell en route to the game, and certainly seemed part of the team already.
- Sports & Recreation
- Joel Campbell
- Aaron Ramsey
- Alexis Sanchez