Gabriel Jesus continued his love affair with the Champions League with a fine goal and assist as he led Arsenal to victory over Sevilla.
The Brazil forward may not boast the most prolific strike record but he has now scored an impressive 23 goals in 41 appearances in Europe’s elite club competition and he was the difference here as the Gunners won 2-1.
A piece of magic from Jesus set up compatriot Gabriel Martinelli to open the scoring on the stroke of half-time before he doubled the lead with a fine, curling finish of his own – although he later limped off having moments earlier held his hamstring.
A thunderous Nemanja Gudelj header reduced the arrears on the hour but Mikel Arteta’s side saw out the closing stages to secure victory, moving top of Group B in the process.
Martinelli should have put Arsenal ahead inside eight minutes after being played through on goal by Jesus, only to shoot straight at the advancing Orjan Nyland.
Moments later Lucas Ocampos stabbed an effort just wide at the other end as both sides looked to strike early in an atmospheric Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.
David Raya’s inclusion in the Arsenal goal at the continued expense of Aaron Ramsdale was again a talking point before the game and the Spaniard gifted possession to Sevilla at the midway point of the first half but the home side failed to take advantage.
Neither team created anything else of note until stoppage time when, firstly, Sevilla easily cut through the Arsenal defence but Youssef En-Nesyri failed to hit the target as he dragged a shot wide.
Arsenal then took the lead, having escaped another Sevilla attack they broke at pace and a fine touch and perfectly-weighted pass from Jesus set Martinelli in behind. This time the Brazilian made no mistake, calmly rounding Nyland before rolling the ball into an empty net.
The Gunners should have doubled their lead soon after the restart but captain Martin Odegaard blazed over when well-placed inside the box.
Jesus, though, was in confident mood and extended the advantage with a fine solo goal, moving in off the left to curl a finish past Nyland.
Sevilla responded well and got themselves back into the contest when Gudelj powered a header past Raya from Ivan Rakitic’s corner.
The Europa League holders came within inches of equalising soon after, as substitute Mariano Diaz’s strike was tipped onto the crossbar by Raya.
Jesus did not have chance to savour a memorable performance as he gingerly hobbled off to be replaced by Eddie Nketiah with 10 minutes left on the clock.
Arsenal, though, were able to navigate through the difficult closing stages, surviving a late onslaught to secure victory ahead of the return game at the Emirates Stadium in a fortnight’s time, where another three points will leave Arteta’s side sitting pretty.