Survivors and bereaved relatives of the Grenfell Tower fire have called for London Fire Brigade chief Dany Cotton to resign – after a highly critical report from the inquiry into the blaze.
The report said some of the 72 people who were killed could have been saved if the building was evacuated sooner.
The Grenfell United group said it was “heartbreaking” to read, and some relatives want senior staff prosecuted.
The LFB said it was “disappointed” by some of the criticism of individuals.
The inquiry, which examined what happened on the night of 14 June 2017, concluded that “many more lives” could have been saved if the advice to residents to “stay put” had been abandoned earlier than 02:35 BST.
It said London Fire Brigade’s preparations for such a fire were “gravely inadequate”.
Survivors called for senior fire brigade staff to be sacked and prosecuted, saying that the brigade is “in the hands of people that are incapable of their jobs”.
Nazanin Aghlani, who lost two family members in the fire, said: “If a fire happened tonight the same thing would happen again.”
The brigade’s commissioner Dany Cotton, who is due to retire in April 2020, expressed her “deepest sorrow” that firefighters had not been able to save those who died, but said the inquiry had no expert evidence to support its conclusion about evacuating the tower.
It would not have been possible or safe to evacuate residents through a “narrow, smoke-clogged stairwell” with the number of firefighters who would have been available for that task said Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union.
The report also concluded that cladding surrounding the tower did not comply with building regulations and was the main reason for the fire’s “shocking” spread.
Campaign group Grenfell United said the report showed “the immediate and real dangers” of “highly combustible cladding and insulation”.
“Lives are at risk and the government need to treat this as a national emergency,” the group said.
The inquiry made 46 recommendations, including improvements in training for fire brigade staff and the development of national guidelines for evacuating high-rise buildings.
Grenfell United called for the recommendations to be implemented in full, saying they would save lives.
The report condemned the brigade for “serious shortcomings” and systemic failures in its response to the fire.
‘Opportunity to save everyone’
Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick said the absence of a plan to evacuate the tower was a “major omission” by the brigade and more lives could have been saved had the “stay-put” policy been abandoned sooner.
Grenfell United responded: “It is heartbreaking to read that more of our loved ones could have been saved that night if the building was evacuated earlier.”
At an emotional news conference, relatives of 20 victims of the fire called for an overhaul of the brigade, saying its leadership should resign and face prosecution.
Sid-Ali Atmani, who escaped from the 15th floor, told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme: “Those in command had [the] opportunity to save everyone in that tower – we’re talking about two hours.”
Karim Mussilhy, vice-chairman of Grenfell United, told the BBC he blamed the fire brigade leadership, not the firefighters. “Dany Cotton needs to step down today,” he said. “She should not have the luxury to retire early with this £2m pot.”
But Moyra Samuels of the Justice4Grenfell group said the firefighters were being scapegoated.
“It wasn’t the firefighters who put the cladding on the building. The firefighters went into a building that was a deathtrap,” she said.
‘Too little too late’
The report said evidence from Ms Cotton that she would not have changed anything about the brigade’s response was “insensitive”.
Ms Cotton said many of the recommendations were welcome and would be “carefully considered”.
She expressed her “deepest sorrow at not being able to save all those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire”.
She added: “We welcome the chairman’s recognition of the courage, commitment and bravery of firefighters on the night, but we are disappointed at some of the criticism of individual staff members who were placed in completely unprecedented circumstances and faced the most unimaginable conditions while trying to save the lives of others.”
However, Natasha Elcock, chairwoman of Grenfell United who was rescued with her six-year-old daughter from the 11th floor, said Dany Cotton’s statement was “too little too late”.
“She stood up in the inquiry, in a room full of bereaved and survivors and said there’s nothing she would do to change that night,” she told the BBC.
“If she’d expressed that sorrow that day in that room, that potentially would have washed with us today.”
Grenfell United expressed concern at the report’s finding that the LFB were “at risk of not learning the lessons from Grenfell”, adding that firefighters were “let down by their training, procedures, equipment and leadership”.
Other issues highlighted in the report included:
- A lack of training in how to “recognise the need for an evacuation or how to organise one”
- Incident commanders “of relatively junior rank” being unable to change strategy
- Control room officers lacking training on when to advise callers to evacuate
- An assumption that crews would reach callers, resulting in “assurances which were not well founded”
- Communication between the control room and those on the ground being “improvised, uncertain and prone to error”
- A lack of an organised way to share information within the control room, meaning officers had “no overall picture of the speed or pattern of fire spread”
In the House of Commons, MPs held a minutes’ silence to remember victims of the fire, before a debate on the inquiry.
Boris Johnson told MPs that survivors and the bereaved had been “overlooked and ignored” before the fire and “shamefully failed” afterwards.
He said the government planned to name companies who were failing to replace unsafe cladding on their buildings, adding: “Too many building owners have not acted responsibly.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government’s response had been “too slow and not strong enough on every front”, from rehousing the survivors to replacing Grenfell-style cladding.
Eight out of 10 buildings residential blocks have still not had their cladding replaced, he said.
The second phase of the inquiry will focus on wider circumstances of the fire, including the design of the building.
While this was not the focus of the first phase, the report found there was “compelling evidence” external walls of the building failed to comply with building regulations and “actively promoted” the spread of fire.
It said the principal reason the flames shot up the building so fiercely was the combustible aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding with polyethylene cores which acted as a “source of fuel”.
Grenfell United said the second phase of the inquiry “must now focus on where responsibility for the devastating refurbishment [of the building] lies”, with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the tenant management organisation and the companies involved facing “serious questions”.
More in-depth coverage of the report is available on The Grenfell Tower Inquiry Podcast with Eddie Mair on BBC Sounds
Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to score a late winner at Ajax as Chelsea stunned last year’s Champions League semi-finalists.
The Dutch giants had won both their Group H games prior to the visit of Frank Lampard’s side but struggled to break down their disciplined opponents and were undone when Batshuayi slammed home in the final few minutes.
Ajax did have a goal ruled out by the Video Assistant Referee in the first half when Quincy Promes’ strike was ruled out by the smallest of margins, while Edson Alvarez headed against the post after the break.
But Chelsea fully deserved their win for a hugely impressive away performance as they recorded a second successive win that moves them top of the group, level with Ajax on six points.
The victory sets things up for a tantalising top-of-the-table meeting between the two sides at Stamford Bridge on 5 November.
More to follow.
Celebrity Extinction Rebellion supporters have admitted in an open letter being “hypocrites” over their high-carbon lifestyles.
But stars including Benedict Cumberbatch, who last week joined London protests, called for “systemic change” to the “fossil-fuel economy”.
It comes as Extinction Rebellion was granted permission to challenge a London-wide protest ban in court.
Several demonstrators have been arrested as hundreds defied the ban.
More than 100 celebrity supporters of Extinction Rebellion signed the letter to the media, which urges the media to focus on “the real story” of the climate and ecological emergency.
Spice Girl Mel B, comedian Steve Coogan, musician Sir Bob Geldof, actor Sir Mark Rylance, model Lily Cole and Glastonbury’s Emily Eavis, among others, all confessed their culpability in the climate crisis.
The letter says: “Dear journalists who have called us hypocrites. You’re right.
“We live high carbon lives and the industries that we are part of have huge carbon footprints.
“Like you, and everyone else, we are stuck in this fossil-fuel economy and without systemic change, our lifestyles will keep on causing climate and ecological harm.”
But they called on the media to focus on the “more urgent story” of life on earth dying in a sixth mass extinction.
They said they cannot ignore the call of young people such as Greta Thunberg to “fight for their already devastated future”, even if it means putting themselves “in your firing line”.
Meanwhile, police have begun making arrests after Extinction Rebellion activists defied an order banning them from demonstrating anywhere in London.
About 500 protesters gathered in Trafalgar Square, some of whom covered their mouths with black tape to symbolise the silencing of their protest.
Within a couple of hours, the protest broke up and large numbers dispersed. Police arrested a small group who were blocking Whitehall, BBC correspondent Andy Moore said.
Among those arrested were Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley and George Monbiot, the author and Guardian journalist.
As he was arrested, Mr Monbiot said: “We have to make a stand against the destruction of our life support systems.”
An application for a judicial review of the ban was accepted by the High Court, according to an Extinction Rebellion spokesman.
It means the case can go ahead, with an initial hearing scheduled for Thursday.
The claimants include the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and Baroness Jenny Jones, Labour MPs Clive Lewis and David Drew, and Mr Monbiot.
Extinction Rebellion argues the ban is disproportionate and an unprecedented curtailment of the right to free speech and free assembly.
The group hopes the High Court will quash the decision to implement the blanket ban.
It follows the Metropolitan Police announcing new restrictions under Section 14 of the Public Order Act, which required protesters to disperse by 21:00 BST or risk arrest.
Any assembly of more than two people linked to the Extinction Rebellion action is now illegal in London.
The force said it decided to impose the rules after “continued breaches” of conditions which limited the demonstrations to Trafalgar Square.
More than 1600 people have been arrested since the protests, dubbed the Autumn Uprising, began on October 7.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, who is leading the policing of the demonstrations, said he was confident the Met’s decision was “entirely lawful” and “entirely proportionate”.
Also on Wednesday, a group of mothers and babies defied the restriction, staging a “feed-in” outside Google’s offices in London’s King’s Cross, while other activists targeted the nearby offices of YouTube – a Google subsidiary.
They said they wanted to highlight the company’s political donations to organisations that have campaigned against action on climate change.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said concerns had been raised about the police’s decision to ban the protests, adding that shadow home secretary Diane Abbott was discussing it with the police.
“I think it’s important to protect the right of free speech, and the right to demonstrate in our society – obviously in a non-violent way,” he said.
He added that Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan had no involvement in the “operational decision” by police to remove the protesters.
On Tuesday, Mr Khan said he was “seeking further information” about why the ban was necessary, saying he believed “the right to peaceful and lawful protest must always be upheld”.
A government spokesman said the UK was already taking “world-leading action to combat climate change as the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global warming entirely by 2050”.
“While we share people’s concerns about global warming, and respect the right to peaceful protest, it should not disrupt people’s day-to-day lives,” he added.
What are the rules around protests?
Police have the powers to ban a protest under the Public Order Act 1986, if a senior officer has reasonable belief that it may cause “serious disruption to the life of the community”.
Police are also under a duty to balance the task of keeping the streets open with the right freedom of assembly under Article 11 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and freedom of expression, under Article 10. These rights are not absolute – the state can curtail them.
However, the BBC’s home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani said: “The test, if and when it gets to a human rights court battle, is whether police action was proportionate to the threat and only what was strictly necessary.”
By law, the organiser of a public march must tell the police certain information in writing six days in advance.
Police have the power to limit or change the route of the march or set other conditions.
A Section 14 notice issued under the Public Order Act allows police to impose conditions on a static protest and individuals who fail to comply with these can be arrested.
Planned industrial action by London Underground drivers has been called off after unions reached a deal in a dispute over excessive track noise.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) were due to start their action at midnight.
The RMT said assurances had been given that speed restrictions will be introduced from Friday and works to reduce noise levels would now begin.
London Underground said it was pleased about the suspension of action.
The action was planned for the Jubilee, Central, Northern and Victoria lines, and included driving trains at reduced speed.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The action is suspended but the dispute remains on and we remain vigilant as the agreed programme is rolled out.”
A Transport for London (TfL) spokesman said: “The health and safety of our staff and customers is our top priority and we will continue to progress a number of immediate and longer-term plans to help solve this complex issue.”
The union had said previously it wanted TfL to introduce temporary speed restrictions at certain locations to “help alleviate excessive track noise and anxiety for our drivers and travelling public alike”.
In September TfL had already agreed to provide a broader range of ear protection to drivers, “who wish to use it alongside plans for longer-term solutions to this complex issue”.
Rail commuters are facing major delays in London due to “multiple incidents”.
Damage to overhead wires between London St Pancras and Blackfriars blocked all Thameslink services during rush hour.
Services have now resumed but the operator – which runs trains across the South East – warned of “major disruption until the end of the day”.
A speed restriction in Borehamwood is adding to the disruption, affecting mainly south-bound trains from St Albans to St Pancras.
Thameslink said there was a “significantly reduced service” through central London stations, London Bridge, Gatwick Airport, East Croydon, Sevenoaks, Orpington, Rainham, St Albans, Wimbledon and Sutton.
“Please check customer information screens and journey planners prior to travelling, and listen to station and train announcements for up to date service information,” it said.
Power to railway lines between London St Pancras and Blackfriars had been switched off following “multiple incidents”, Network Rail said.
“Network Rail staff have been working overnight and this morning to repair the issue,” the company said.
“Services have now resumed but passengers should check their journeys before travelling as residual delays are expected.”
Another train operator, Great Northern, has tweeted in reply to a customer: “We are experiencing severe congestion on the line due to damage to the overhead wires in London Blackfriars which results in late notice cancellation of services.”
|Specsavers County Championship Division One, Kia Oval (day three):|
|Surrey 402-6d: Borthwick 137, Pope 106; Mullaney 2-73, Coughlin 2-83|
|Nottinghamshire 77-1: Slater 29, Mullaney 21*; Clarke 1-11|
|Notts (1 pt) trail Surrey (5 pts) by 325 runs|
Surrey and England batsman Ollie Pope struck his eighth first-class century as their game against Nottinghamshire at The Oval drifts towards a draw.
On a rain-affected day three, 21-year-old Pope made 106 while opener Scott Borthwick was out for 137 as Surrey declared their first innings on 402-6.
Relegated Nottinghamshire finished on 77-1 as Rikki Clarke took the wicket of Steven Mullaney lbw for 21.
Stumps were called at 18:00 BST with Ben Slater and Ben Compton not out.
On a day where numerous County Championship fixtures were rained off, play was delayed until 13:10 BST.
Pope began on 79 not out alongside Scott Borthwick, who was on 109, as Surrey resumed on 248-2.
The pair added a further 44 runs before Pope’s wicket ended their 222-run partnership.
Clarke (36 not out) and Jordan Clark (23 not out) added some late runs after tea to earn Surrey a fifth batting point, before the hosts declared at 16:15 BST.
But Nottinghamshire repelled Surrey’s seam attack to finish the day 325 runs behind, with Slater (29) and Compton (16) both surviving.
|Jimmy Peters – The first black England rugby international|
|Date: Tuesday, 24 September Time: 18:00 BST Listen via: BBC Radio Bristol and BBC Sounds|
From his father being mauled to death by a lion, to his abandonment, to representing his country and then ultimately being banned by his sport, the life of Jimmy Peters was nothing short of remarkable.
As the first black man to play rugby union for England, between 1906 and 1908, he was a pioneer.
But Peters – known as “Darkie” by followers of the game in what were less enlightened times – was hardly a trailblazer. It was 80 years before a black player would wear the red rose again.
How did the son of a Jamaican circus showman overcome tragedy, disadvantage and prejudice to became the only black player in the first 117 years of England’s international rugby union history?
From early-life tragedy to Fegan’s Orphanage
Born in Salford in 1879, the first child of a black father and a white mother, Peters’ early life saw the family moving around with a travelling zoo, but by the time his third sibling was born in 1886, his father George – a lion tamer with Cedric’s Menagerie – had been killed by a lion while performing.
Peters was then moved to another circus to entertain as a bareback rider, but was abandoned when he broke his arm in an accident and was no longer able to perform.
Left tied to a wagon, he was found and cared for by Lord and Lady Portman, who came from one of the richest families in Britain in the late 19th Century.
The Portmans sent him to Fegan’s Orphanage in London in November 1890, where boys were taught printing, carpentry, shoemaking, tailoring and – crucially – sports.
It was there that Peters would learn the game of rugby and play matches at the nearby Blackheath FC, before leaving the orphanage in September 1898.
|2019 Rugby World Cup|
|Hosts: Japan Dates: 20 September to 2 November|
|Coverage: Full commentary on every game across BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.|
‘The organiser, the general’ – Peters’ rugby career blossoms
Peters took a job as a carpenter back in Bristol, living in St Phillip’s Marsh, where he was reunited with his family, and he soon began playing rugby for the city’s club.
“He was quite an athletic player, with a sharp, fast pass. He was a very good ball-handler,” Bristol Rugby historian Mark Hoskins told BBC Radio Bristol.
After representing Bristol 35 times over two seasons, Peters left the city in 1902 and moved to Plymouth.
“He was a half-back so nowadays we would describe him as a fly-half or a scrum-half, but those positions hadn’t been ascribed yet,” rugby historian Tom Weir said. “He was one of the smaller players on the pitch.”
Author and historian Tony Collins added: “He was seen as the fulcrum around which the teams he played in revolved. He was the organiser, the general.”
County Championship success followed with Devon in 1906, and he made his historic England debut against Scotland soon afterwards on 17 March.
Many commentators felt his call-up should have come sooner, with the Western Times saying on 5 February that year it was a “pity” he had been overlooked for a meeting with Wales and that “colour was the difficulty” in the matter and he had been “sacrificed”.
Controversy, injury and a ban
Four more caps would follow before his final England game at Ashton Gate in Bristol in 1908, against Wales, but not before reports of racism during the visit of a touring South Africa side, who were said to be unhappy to play against a black man when they faced Devon.
Peters was dropped by the Rugby Football Union for England’s match against the tourists and not even selected among the top six half-backs for the national trials just months later.
He did eventually make two further England appearances after that tour, and carried on playing for Devon and Plymouth until he badly injured his fingers in a workplace accident.
He was subsequently given a testimonial by Plymouth, but this was seen as an act of professionalism that was against the RFU’s amateur regulations at that time, so he was banned from the sport.
Peters’ injuries would prove not to be as bad as first feared, but his ban meant he was unable to return to rugby union, so he accepted an offer from rugby league team Barrow for 18 months, before joining St Helens in 1914.
But the outbreak of World War One meant Peters could not play for Saints, as he was recalled to work in Plymouth’s naval dockyard. He would eventually marry and start a family in Plymouth, being described as a “gentleman” teetotal publican who would often quote Bible passages. He died in 1954 aged 74.
It was 80 years after Peters’ final cap before another black man played for England, when Chris Oti appeared in a 9-6 win over Scotland in 1988 (he scored a hat-trick against Ireland in his next game) – something that has been described as a “lost opportunity” for English rugby.
But with England’s 31-man squad taking part in the Rugby World Cup in Japan featuring 10 players of colour, it would seem that the prejudice faced by the man they called Darkie is an issue the English game has tackled.
Listen to the full documentary with John Inverdale on BBC Radio Bristol from 18:00 BST on Tuesday, 24 September, and for up to 30 days afterwards on BBC Sounds.
Researched and produced by BBC Radio Bristol’s Tom Ryan.
James Maddison’s first league goal of the season helped Leicester come from behind to beat Tottenham in an absorbing encounter at the King Power Stadium.
Maddison drilled a superb low effort into the far corner from distance to lift Brendan Rodgers’ side back into the top four of the Premier League at the visitors’ expense.
Ricardo Pereira had put the Foxes back on level terms, moments after Spurs had been denied a second goal when Serge Aurier’s low drive was disallowed for a marginal offside call against Son Heung-min.
Harry Kane’s fourth league goal of the campaign had given Spurs the lead in the first half, the England striker slotting Son’s clever flick beyond Kasper Schmeichel despite being knocked off balance by Foxes defender Caglar Soyuncu.
Leicester thought they had opened the scoring themselves when Wilfred Ndidi scored on the rebound after Paulo Gazzaniga spilled Youri Tielemans’ effort, but the goal was ruled out for offside by the video assistant referee.
Tightest of VAR calls denies Spurs
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino accused his players of “lacking fight” after they surrendered a two-goal lead to draw with Olympiakos in the Champions League midweek.
The result mirrored their 2-2 draw with north London rivals Arsenal in their previous away league game, with Kane admitting after Wednesday’s Group B opener that Spurs had failed to learn from recent mistakes.
Pochettino made six changes to the team that started in Greece, with Hugo Lloris unavailable due to his wife giving birth and Dele Alli left out of the squad altogether. Christian Eriksen, Lucas Moura and Eric Dier all had to settle for places on the bench.
Perhaps as a result, the visitors looked disjointed in the early stages and were fortunate not to fall behind when Ndidi’s effort was chalked off.
There was nothing fortunate about Kane’s opener 13 minutes later, however.
The England striker managed to latch on to Son’s back-heel and despite losing his balance under Soyuncu’s challenge, he somehow managed to knock the ball past Jonny Evans before lifting it over Schmeichel into the far corner.
Spurs thought they had doubled their lead when Aurier drilled a powerful drive into the far corner, but Son was adjudged to have been marginally offside in the build-up and the goal was chalked off.
Buoyed by that narrow decision, Leicester threw bodies forward and restored parity through Pereira, before Maddison struck with five minutes remaining to extend Spurs’ winless league run away from home to nine games.
Leicester prove top-six credentials
After watching the Foxes slip to their first defeat of the campaign at Old Trafford last weekend, Leicester fans were hopeful that their team could continue their impressive home form against a Spurs side who have looked vulnerable on their travels of late.
They had lost their last three meetings with Tottenham in the Premier League prior to today’s game, but this latest performance provided further compelling evidence that Rodgers’ team can mount a serious challenge for a top-six finish this season.
Maddison was heavily involved early on, the 22-year-old curling an effort narrowly off target from the edge of the box before firing straight at Gazzaniga from a tight angle after twisting and turning to find room for the shot.
Rodgers’ side did not let their heads drop after falling behind, with Harvey Barnes and Jamie Vardy both going close to equalising before Pereira’s strike midway through the second half.
Just as the game appeared destined to end in a draw, Maddison collected Hamza Choudhury’s pass before firing low into the bottom corner from a central position – all in front of watching England manager Gareth Southgate.
The result was no less than Maddison and his team-mates deserve and lifts the Foxes – temporarily at least – to second in the Premier League.
Man of the match – James Maddison (Leicester)
VAR takes centre stage – the stats
- There were two goals disallowed by VAR in this match, while no other game in the Premier League in 2019-20 has had more than one chalked off.
- Tottenham have failed to win three consecutive away Premier League games when they were leading at half-time for the first time since March 2008.
- Leicester have suffered just one defeat in their last nine Premier League home games (W6 D2), after losing four in a row directly before that.
- Tottenham are without a win in their last nine away games in the Premier League (W0 D2 L7) – they last had a longer winless away run between April and December 2006 (10).
- Leicester’s Ricardo Pereira scored his third goal in 41 Premier League appearances – all three have come at the King Power Stadium.
- Tottenham striker Harry Kane has scored 14 goals in 13 games in all competitions against Leicester, four more than he has versus any other side in his professional career.
- Since the start of last season, Kane has scored 13 Premier League away goals, more than any other player in this period.
- Leicester’s James Maddison ended a run of 31 shots in the Premier League without a goal, since netting versus Huddersfield in April.
- Spurs’ Son Heung-min has been directly involved in seven goals in his last six Premier League appearances versus Leicester (4 goals, 3 assists).
‘A wonderful performance’ – what the managers said
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers on BBC Sport: “It was a wonderful performance. I thought the players were outstanding. We started the game with a great tempo, which sets the emotion in the stadium.
“It was just a case of preparing the players mentally for the second half. We had to adapt the system at half-time. The players deserve huge credit. The quality we showed was top-class against an outstanding team.”
“Some of the offside decisions – it’s fine margins. Whatever the decision, you have to adapt and keep your focus on the game. The players did that very well.”
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino on BBC Sport: “We dominated the game and we deserved more but that’s football. It can change quickly. We need to keep working. We have a lot of games coming and we need to be ready.
“I’m always saying that sometimes it (VAR) benefits you and sometimes it goes against you. You can’t complain afterwards. You have to accept it.
“Today, we were the better side but I hope they (Leicester) have a very good season. I admire Brendan Rodgers and wish them the best.”
Leicester travel to Luton Town in the third round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, 24 September (19:45 BST), while Spurs visit Colchester United at the same time.
Goals from academy gradates Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka helped Arsenal overcome a difficult test against Eintracht Frankfurt and begin their Europa League campaign with a victory.
Willock put the Gunners in front with a deflected shot in the first half before Saka smashed in his first senior goal for the club in the 85th minute.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added a third two minutes later as Arsenal ended their three-game winless run.
The Gunners had created further chances but also relied on goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to come to the aid of their fragile defence.
The Argentine produced excellent low saves to deny Filip Kostic and Andre Silva in the first half.
The second period was frantic in front of a vociferous home crowd with Arsenal’s late goals only coming after Dominik Kohr was shown a second yellow card for a cynical foul.
The Gunners, beaten finalists in last year’s Europa League, are top of the early Group F table on goal difference after Standard Liege beat Vitoria in the night’s other game.
Youngsters star in attack
Manager Unai Emery opted for a mix of youth and experience for the game in Germany, despite it arguably being Arsenal’s toughest test in Group F, and it was their young players who stood out.
Eighteen-year-old Saka, playing for the first team for the first time this season and fifth time in total, was excellent on the left flank, scoring once and setting up the other two goals.
He created Willock’s goal by beating his marker with fine skill in midfield and was the main threat for the Gunners in the first half.
The only criticism was he spurned a number of chances to increase Arsenal’s lead but he silenced those doubts with an emphatic finish from the edge of the area late on.
Willock played as the Gunners most advanced central midfielder and offered a goal threat but also linked play well, notably with a fine driving run in the second half which ended with Martin Hinteregger excellently blocking an Aubameyang shot.
The scoreline flattered Arsenal in the end but the game will be most memorable for the performance of their youngsters.
Defensive issues remain
The Gunners came into the game on the back of their disappointing 2-2 draw against Watford, after which their defensive display was heavily criticised as they spurned a two-goal lead.
Although Arsenal kept a second clean sheet of the season, they still looked uncertain at the back and allowed Eintracht 24 shots on goal – seven fewer than the Hornets’ 31 on Sunday.
Arsenal’s deeper midfielders Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira failed to control proceedings with the second half end-to-end until Kohr was dismissed.
Eintracht, who reached the semi-finals of the Europa League last season before losing on penalties to Chelsea, lost strikers Sebastien Haller and Luka Jovic to West Ham and Real Madrid respectively in the summer and had either been in their line-up on Thursday, Arsenal’s slack defence may have been punished.
Kostic caused right-back Calum Chambers significant problems but was wasteful, as was AC Milan loanee Silva, who shot well wide in the second half when given another good opportunity.
That said, Martinez, brought in for first-choice goalkeeper Bernd Leno, impressed with key saves in the first half and assured handling when called upon.
Man of the match – Bukayo Saka
‘A dream come true’ – reaction
Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka: “I’m so happy to score for Arsenal, it’s a dream come true – I have been dreaming of this moment since I was a kid.
“I just want to keep working hard to make sure I can feel this feeling again.”
Arsenal manager Unai Emery: “We knew tonight was going to be difficult, they fell back very deep and caused us problems early on.
“We recovered the ball well and the young players showed the confidence to take their chances.
“Everybody can be happy and continuing in this competition is important, so it was good to get a good win, especially away from home.”
Eintracht coach Adi Hutter: “It’s a bitter defeat for us, because the performance does not reflect that result.
“When it was still 1-0 for Arsenal, we tried to score the equaliser but then conceded another one.
“The important thing is for us to create chances, I have seen enough of those. A goal can help open some doors, give you a boost, that did not happen today.”
Aubameyang’s goal-scoring run – the best stats
- Arsenal have only lost one of their 13 group stage games in the Europa League (W10 D2), while this was their sixth consecutive clean sheet in the group stage of the competition.
- Arsenal picked up their first European away win against German opposition since November 2013 (1-0 v Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League), having failed to win on any of their previous five trips (D1 L4).
- Eintracht Frankfurt suffered their heaviest home defeat across European competitions – in what was their 74th such game on home soil.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has netted seven goals in his last seven Europa League appearances for Arsenal, with four of those coming away from home.
- Bukayo Saka is the youngest player to score for Arsenal in the Europa League/Champions League since October 2008, when Aaron Ramsey (17y 300d) netted against Fenerbahce.
Chelsea’s return to the Champions League ended in disappointment as Ross Barkley missed a late penalty that ensured Valencia claimed victory at Stamford Bridge.
Frank Lampard’s first game as a manager in the tournament he won as a player with Chelsea in 2012 turned into a night of frustration as Valencia took advantage of slack marking at a free-kick for Rodrigo to score the winner on 74 minutes.
Chelsea, who lost in-form youngster Mason Mount to injury early on, had the chance to rescue a point when referee Cuneyt Cakir awarded a penalty for handball after consulting VAR when Daniel Wass blocked Fikayo Tomori’s header.
Barkley had only come on as a substitute eight minutes earlier but insisted taking the spot-kick instead of the Blues’ regular taker Jorginho and Willian, who argued his own case to take it before relenting.
It was a tight and tense encounter with chances at a premium and a tricky Group H, which also includes Lille and last year’s semi-finalists Ajax, has got even tougher for Chelsea after starting their campaign with a damaging home loss.
Chelsea lack touch of class
This was a tough start to life in the Champions League for Lampard and a Chelsea side robbed of the ‘X Factor’ given to them for so long by Eden Hazard.
The mood in the camp will not have been helped by Barkley’s insistence on taking that ill-fated late penalty when it appeared Jorginho, who scored in the Super Cup final against Liverpool, was stepping forward for the task.
Barkley’s determination came at a heavy price, glancing a poor effort off the bar and high into the Matthew Harding Stand. He took the kick after conversations with Jorginho, Willian, Tammy Abraham and captain Cesar Azpilicueta.
It ended with a handshake from Jorginho before the spot-kick but it was a chaotic scene with an almost inevitable conclusion.
It was a night when not much went right for Chelsea, starting with what looked like a nasty ankle injury to Mount, who was caught by a reckless follow-through in a challenge by former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin.
Chelsea had their moments, especially when Jasper Cillessen saved from Willian and Marcos Alonso – but Lampard’s side simply could not produce the touch of quality to break down Valencia and were too static as Daniel Parejo’s free-kick released Rodrigo.
This means Chelsea are on the back foot only 90 minutes into their return to the Champions League and are still to win at Stamford Bridge this season.
Valencia lift the gloom
Chelsea’s disappointment will be even more acute as this looked like the perfect opportunity to get their Champions League campaign off to a winning start against a Valencia side who arrived in London amid turmoil.
Valencia’s players and fans had been infuriated by the decision to sack coach Marcelino last week after he won the Copa del Rey last season and took them back into the Champions League.
Marcelino’s successor Albert Celades started his reign with a 5-2 defeat at Barcelona on Saturday – but his Valencia side showed plenty of resolve here and were always a threat, which was realised by that free-kick that was just too quick and too smart for Chelsea and resulted in Rodrigo’s goal.
This was a real morale booster for Celades and Valencia but a serious blow for Chelsea as Ajax signalled their threat in Group H with a 3-0 win over Lille.
Tough night for Chelsea’s young guns
Chelsea’s young brigade have taken the Premier League by storm with Tammy Abraham scoring seven goals and Mason Mount on the mark three times.
Abraham found this a much tougher assignment although he still had moments of threat, particularly a glancing first-half header that was off target.
The 21-year-old never lost heart but he was starved of decent service and this was not to be his night.
It was even more painful for Mount, literally, as he never recovered from Coquelin’s early challenge and his attempts to carry on ended in despair. He and Chelsea will now anxiously await the medical verdict.
Defender Tomori did well in defence and also made his contribution in attack with a surging first-half run that brought danger and a header that resulted in the penalty.
There will be better nights than this but the Champions League will be adding layers to their learning experience.
Rare losing start for Chelsea – key stats
- This was only Chelsea’s second defeat in their past 42 Champions League group games at Stamford Bridge (W30 D10), with the other against Basel in 2013.
- Chelsea lost their opening Champions League match of a campaign for only the second time – the first was against Basel in 2013-14.
- Frank Lampard became the first Chelsea manager to lose his opening Champions League match in charge – 10 of the previous 11 had won, while Gianluca Vialli drew with AC Milan in 1999.
- Chelsea became the first team since Liverpool in December 2008 against PSV (Darby, Kelly, Spearing) to hand three Champions League debuts to Englishmen aged 21 or younger in the same game (Abraham, Mount, Tomori).
- Valencia registered only their second away Champions League win in England (D7 L3) – their first was a 1-0 win at Liverpool in October 2002.