August 25, 2021

LONDON (Reuters) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started his season with a hat-trick as Arsenal shook off their Premier League troubles and hit second tier West Bromwich Albion for six to reach the third round of the League Cup on Wednesday.

Southampton went two better, dealing fourth tier Newport County an 8-0 drubbing at Rodney Parade in the South Coast side’s biggest away win of their 136-year history.

Premier League rivals Newcastle United and Burnley failed to provide much excitement for the 30,000 crowd at St James’ Park, that game ending goalless with Burnley winning through 4-3 on penalties.

Aubameyang, absent from the Gunners’ opening two 2-0 league defeats after testing positive for COVID-19, tapped into an empty net in the 17th minute after Bukayo Saka’s saved effort fell to him.

He made it 2-0 on the stroke of halftime, when Nicolas Pepe’s shot rebounded off the post for another tap-in, and then repaid the favour seconds later.

The hat-trick was sealed in the 62nd, Saka having bagged the fourth goal of the game in the 50th, with a strike from 18 yards.

Alexandre Lacazette came off the bench for his season’s debut and made it 6-0 four minutes later, assisted by Pepe, as Arsenal celebrated their first win of the season against opponents who were effectively a reserve team.

West Brom, relegated from the Premier League last season, made 11 changes from the side that won at the weekend in the Championship and had five players — including goalkeeper Alex Palmer — making their debuts.

Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale was also debuting following his move from Sheffield United.

Loanee Armando Broja scored in each half on his debut for Southampton and Mohamed Elyounoussi grabbed a second half hat-trick as Newport were hammered in their first home game of the season after having their pitch re-laid.

Nathan Tella (25th), Kyle Walker-Peters (44th) and Nathan Redmond (69th) also scored with Saints running riot in the second half after going in 3-0 at the break.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)