Berlin – Forward Koya Kitagawa scored his first Europa League goal on Thursday as Rapid Wien lost 4-1 away to Arsenal in Group B.
Trailing by a three-goal deficit, Kitagawa volleyed home a rebound from inside the box two minutes into the second half. Although it only served as a consolation, the 24-year-old was delighted to open his European account against such high-profile opponents.
“Frankly, I’m happy to have scored against Arsenal, who are famous around the world,” said Kitagawa, who came off after 65 minutes. “Getting a proper swing on it was the only thing I had in mind.”
The defeat at Emirates Stadium leaves Wien third with one game to go in the group stage. The top two teams from each group qualify for the knockout phase and the Austrians will host Molde of Norway, currently in second, next week.
“We want to win to advance to the next stage and continue the tough battles of the Europa League,” said Kitagawa, in his second season at the club after joining from the J. League’s Shimizu S-Pulse in the summer of 2019. He has been capped eight times by Japan.
In other action, Japan midfielder Koji Miyoshi helped Antwerp reach the knockout phase in Group J after setting up their third goal in the closing stages of a 3-1 home win over Bulgarian side Ludogorets.
Takefusa Kubo will join his compatriot in the knockout round after Villarreal beat Turkish side Sivasspor 1-0 at home to top Group I. The on-loan midfielder from Real Madrid was substituted after 58 minutes.
Defender Yukinari Sugawara played the whole game for AZ Alkmaar in their 1-1 home draw with Napoli in Group F, where they and Real Sociedad are all left with a chance to qualify ahead of the final game.
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