Cologne 1-0 Arsenal: Rheinenergie Stadion is heaven on earth for Billy Goats as Peter Stoger’s side clinch hard-fought victory

PUBLISHED: 20:03 23 November 2017 | UPDATED: 20:03 23 November 2017

The atmosphere builds in Stadion Koln before kick off in their Europa League match against Arsenal. Credit @laythy29

The atmosphere builds in Stadion Koln before kick off in their Europa League match against Arsenal. Credit @laythy29


Cologne beat Arsenal 1-0 in their Europa League match in a frenzied atmosphere in Germany on Thursday night.

Thousands of Arsenal fans massed in the away end in Cologne. Credit @laythy29 Instagaram and Twitter Thousands of Arsenal fans massed in the away end in Cologne. Credit @laythy29 Instagaram and Twitter

A second half penalty from Sehrou Guirassy was enough to clinch a hard fought victory against the Gunners to send their passionate fans wild.

Arsenal had beenaiming to seal their position at the top of their UEFA Europa League group on Thursday when they visited rock-bottom Cologne.

With Arsene Wenger’s side sitting pretty at the head of Group H with two matches remaining in Group H prior to kick-off and a five-point lead over second placed Red Star Belgrade in the runners-up spot, the Frenchman picked another young side laced with a few old heads.

A point would have been enough for them to win the group winner with Cologne requiring a win to stay in mathematical contention for the knock-out stages at the very least.

Colonge's stunning gothic Catherdral. Credit @laythy29 Instagram and Twitter Colonge's stunning gothic Catherdral. Credit @laythy29 Instagram and Twitter

The North Londoners were looking to become the first English team to win away at five different German opponents in all European competition.

There were no surprises in the side Wenger picked, certainly after the Islington Gazette paid a visit to watch a light training session at London Colney on Wednesday morning before the team flew out to Germany.

Olivier Giroud returned after missing the victory in the North London derby with a niggle picked up on international duty for France. Jack Wilshere returned to first-team action, along with David Opsina for Petr Cech, as Mathieu Debuchy was drafted in at right-back as Danny Welbeck started, along with Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Francis Coquelin, who was withdrawn from the fray two weeks ago at Manchester City after a disappointing display.

The visitors could have grabbed an early goal after Ainsley Maitland-Niles had a left footed shot from an acute angle saved low by Timo Horn, as being freed by Wilshere.

On six minutes the Billy Goats, as they are known, could have gone ahead but for a good reaction save from David Ospina from Jhon Cordoba who let fly from distance.

Francis Coquelin then fired narrowly wide on 13 minutes as Arsenal moved the ball well with Wilshere always looking to receive the ball and drive.

Koln Stadion has changed considerably since this correspondent watched Arsenal play Boroussia Moenchengladbach here in 1996, going to 3-2 to a hat-trick from Andrez Juskowiak, as the Gunners slipped to a 3-2 defeat which saw them knocked out of the old UEFA Cup 6-4 on aggregate.

What hasn’t changed is the superb atmosphere generated by passionate German football fans, and at times in the first half in this sold-out 55, 000 capacity ground the ears hurt from the noise. What was good, also, was to hear the thousands of loyal Gooners massed in the away end make their voices heard too, after a convivial after spent in the hostelry’s of this very welcoming and civilised Northern Germany city.

The match was an open one, with both sides intent on attacking at every opportunity. What was lacking, on both sides, was the quality of the final ball – despite Wilshere’s prompting as he dropped off to invariably collect the ball the deep-lying Mohamed Eleny.

But as the Russian referee Vladislav Bezborodov blew for half-time it was very much honours even in a match full of endeavour but notably lacking in goals.

Alex Iwobi for Welbeck was the only change during the half-time interval.

The deadlock was broken in the 62nd minute after the former Lille and Auxuerre forward Sehrou Guriassay was felled in the box and Bezbodorodov immediately pointed to the spot. The 21-year-old Guirassy picked himself and calmly slotted home to make it 1-0 to the home side.

It was a tough ask for Arsenal to get back into the game knowing Peter Stoger’s side have only lost two of their last 20 home games in the UEFA Cup or Europa League, though the losses have come in their last five games.

There was a glimmer of hope as Wenger’s men have scored in each of their last 13 away games in European competition, last failing to find the net in September 2014 in a 0-2 defeat by Borussia Dortmund.

However, the Germans were spurred on by the goal and the atmosphere rose even more as the whole ground thundered their support for the struggling Billy Goats who sit adrift at the bottom of the Bundesliga with only two points gained all season.

You couldn’t tell on this performance however, as the fans united behind the players – before the match with the anthemic Koln Hymn to the tune of ‘You Take The High Road’. The opening of which, roughly translated, runs ‘Up or down we go with you through the fire/Because we are fans from FC Cologne’. The boisterous home fans even proceeded to boom a thunderous adaptation of Belinda Carlise’s 1988 hit single ‘Heaven Is A Place On Earth’.

The highly-rated Eddie Nketiah came on for Debuchy in a bid to restore parity. He nearly equalised from close range late on but the ball trickled the wrong side of Horn’s right-hand post before Wilshere had a vicious shot tipped away by Horn as the Billy Goats saw out the game in a raucous atmosphere.

Arsenal have bigger fish to fry – not least in attempting to replicate their impressive intensity they showed against Spurs during what will surely be a difficult trip to Turf Moor on Sunday - but for one night only Cologne was heaven on earth for its long-suffering fans as they notched up a memorable victory


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Islington Sports News


Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger replied immediately when asked the question.

Yesterday, 23:10

Sunday’s League Cup final is eagerly-awaited by a large number of Arsenal fans. Read on as a number of loyal supporters explained to Layth Yousif what the trophy means to them.

Yesterday, 21:42

With the eagerly-awaited Carabao Cup final on Sunday read the latest in our series detailing previous Arsenal League Cup finals by talking to the people who were there. Read on as we recall the shock upset the Gunners suffered against Luton Towin in the 1988 Wembley showpiece as Gus Caesar unfortunately wrote himself into the history books for all the wrong reasons in a crazy game.

Yesterday, 14:00

Wood Green’s Focus Football hosted a special tournament for youngsters at Fortismere School last Friday.

Yesterday, 10:14

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was in spiky form at his club’s training ground this week ahead of the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday.

Yesterday, 09:30

Beth Mead fired Arsenal into third in the FA Women’s Super League 1 as the Gunners beat Everton at Meadow Park on Friday.

With Arsenal set to face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Carbao Cup final at Wembley on Sunday Layth Yousif talked to Manchester Evening News football writer Charlotte Duncker who covers the Etihad outfit. Read on for her expert views.

Fri, 12:18

The draw for the last 16 of the Europa League has just taken place in Nyon.


“With teenagers there’s a lot of banter, and you can really establish a relationship. You have to trust teenagers to make their own decisions.”

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read sport

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now