Lens stun Arsenal in Champions League comeback

Lens stun Arsenal in Champions League comeback

In a thrilling Champions League encounter Arsenal suffered their first defeat of the season as Lens rallied from behind to secure a 2-1 victory in France, courtesy of an impressive second-half goal by Elye Wahi.

Gabriel Jesus provided the Premier League side with an excellent start by opening the scoring in the 14th minute, momentarily silencing the lively Stade Bollaert crowd.

However, Adrien Thomasson swiftly restored parity for last season’s Ligue 1 runners-up, and Arsenal’s woes were compounded as Bukayo Saka was forced off due to injury before halftime.

Lens’ 20-year-old striker, Elye Wahi, who became the club’s record signing at the beginning of the season, found the net in the 69th minute with a powerful strike, securing a memorable triumph for his team.

This result propelled Lens to the top of Champions League Group B with four points, one ahead of Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal.

All Goals & Highlights: RC Lens 2-1 Arsenal

Meanwhile, in Tuesday’s other group fixture, PSV Eindhoven and Sevilla played to a 2-2 draw in the Netherlands.

Although Arsenal marked their return to the Champions League after a six-year absence, Lens made their first appearance in Europe’s elite club competition in over two decades. This historic occasion was all the more special for Lens, especially as it coincided with a rematch against a team they famously defeated in the Champions League back in 1998 when they beat Arsene Wenger’s Gunners, who were the clear favorites at the time.

Arteta’s squad arrived in northern France with an unbeaten record this season and had showcased their status as group favorites with a dominant 4-0 victory over PSV in the opening game. In contrast, Lens drew 1-1 away to Sevilla.

Despite Saka’s fitness concerns after limping off in the Premier League win against Bournemouth, he started for Arsenal and played a crucial role in their early lead.

– Jesus Opens the Scoring –

Arsenal hadn’t threatened until Saka capitalized on a loose pass back toward his own goal from Thomasson. Saka then set up Jesus, who clinically finished the chance.

Lens quickly learned the unforgiving nature of mistakes at this level but remained resilient. They seized upon an Arsenal error to draw level in the 25th minute.

David Raya, preferred over Aaron Ramsdale in goal, was caught outside his box while attempting to send a pass to Arsenal’s right flank. The pass was intercepted and swiftly relayed to Wahi, who demonstrated excellent control and laid it off for Thomasson, resulting in a magnificent first-time strike.

Arsenal’s troubles continued as Saka was forced off just after the half-hour mark, with Fabio Vieira taking his place.

Both teams had opportunities shortly after halftime, but the closely contested match hinged on two remarkable moments in the middle of the second half.

First, Takehiro Tomiyasu met an Arsenal corner with a first-time effort, only to be denied by an instinctive and stunning save from Brice Samba. Three minutes later, Lens took the lead.

Przemyslaw Frankowski delivered a curling cross from the right flank back to Wahi in the middle, and the young striker calmly slotted a first-time shot low into the far corner, making it 2-1 and sending the stadium into a frenzy.

In the final minutes, the home side weathered an Arsenal onslaught, with Jonathan Gradit epitomizing their resolute defensive performance with a heroic block.


Champions League 2023-2024
2 - 1
Final Score
Game Statistics
1Yellow cards1
0Red cards0
3Corner Kick5
3Shots on Goal6
Pass Accuracy
Shot Accuracy
Pass Accuracy
Shot Accuracy
Ball Possession