In a theatrical celebration of the Champions League’s return to their home ground on Tuesday, RC Lens forward Elye Wahi scored one goal and assisted on another as his team defeated Arsenal 2-1 to top Group B.
The 20-year-old, who transferred from Montpellier during the offseason, assisted Adrien Thomasson in tying the score in the first half following Gabriel Jesus’s opening goal and then scored the game-winning goal in the 69th minute to excite the Bollaert-Delelis stadium.
The outcome moved the Ligue 1 team ahead of Arsenal, who suffered their first loss during the competition’s group stage in 10 games, to four points after two games.
Following their draw against PSV Eindhoven, Sevilla is in second place with two points.
The stadium was sold out for the 30th time in a row for Len’s first Champions League home game in 21 years, and the 38,000 spectators were not dissatisfied as their team maintained their return to form following a subpar start to the season.
When the streak began against Arsenal in the Champions League group stage in 1998–1999, Lens had scored at least once in each of their previous 33 home games in all European competitions. On Tuesday, they continued the streak.
Early on, the hosts had the first real opportunities, but Kevin Danso’s turn-and-shoot attempt and Thomasson’s header both missed their intended targets. Arsenal, on the other hand, was far more ruthless and penalised Lens for their initial error.
After 14 minutes, the London team took the lead after Thomasson lost possession of the ball in midfield to Bukayo Saka. Saka then threw Jesus through, and the Brazilian slammed his effort past Brice Samba.
Kai Havertz then put Samba’s ability to block shots to the test, but just as Arsenal began to feel in control, Thomasson miraculously made up for his earlier mistake.
After 25 minutes, Wahi extended to divert Deiver Machado’s long pass into Thomasson’s path. Thomasson then skillfully curled the ball into the far corner to tie the score.
The outstanding Samba then had to make a quick save to stop Leandro Trossard early in the second half.
The 64th minute presented a significant opportunity for Lens, but Salis Abdul Samed’s low shot shaved David Raya’s left-hand post.
Three minutes later, Samba once more proved his value by frustrating Takehiro Tomiyasu with a superb foot stop.
At the opposite end, Wahi was just as effective, heading Przemyslaw Frankowski’s cross into the bottom corner to give Lens the lead.
Reiss Nelson gave Arsenal one final opportunity, but it was not to be their night.