Arsenal boss Emery urges fans to ‘feel stronger’ about Europa League
Boss’s plea as Gunners make it through to competition’s last 16 with win against BATE Borisov at the Emirates Stadium
21 February, 2019 — By Tom Foot
Last 32, Second Leg
ARSENAL 3 (Volkov OG 4, Mustafi 39, Sokratis 60)
BATE BORISOV 0
(Arsenal win 3-1 on aggregate)
UNAI Emery believes Arsenal fans need to “feel” the magic of the Europa League if his side are to go on and lift the trophy.
The Gunners booked their place in the last 16 last night (Thursday) with a stuttering second-leg victory over Bate Borisov at the Emirates Stadium.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, they turned the tie around thanks to an own goal, and efforts from defensive duo Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
“We can win it. If we can say we are one of the last 16 then we can win,” said Emery, who cut an animated figure throughout the 3-0 win as he danced around the dugout.
“We need to feel stronger about the competition with our supporters, and keep building on our performances.”
Arsenal went into the game a goal down, but found themselves level within four minutes of the kick-off. The one thing they didn’t need was help scoring, but that message didn’t reach defender Zakhar Volkov, who looked like he was auditioning for Dancing On Ice as he got his feet in a muddle and sent Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s low cross past his own goalkeeper.
BATE should have scored again minutes later – this time at the right end of the pitch. Stanislav Dragun, who hit the winner the last time these two sides met, beat Petr Cech, but Stephan Lichtsteiner saved his side as he got back to clear the ball off the line.
Arsenal went ahead in the tie before half-time courtesy of a fine header from Mustafi, who swooped to power home Granit Xhaka’s in-swinging corner.
The expectations were that Emery’s side would come out firing again after the restart, but it was the visitors who should have scored next. Sloppy defending allowed the ball to bundle its way to Maksim Skavysh, but the striker fired straight at Cech from eight yards.
In the 56th minute there were more concerns for the home supporters when Laurent Koscielny limped off injured. But any injury fears were quickly replaced by cheers when his replacement, fit-again Sokratis, got his head on another Xhaka corner.
However, the biggest cheer of the night came just before Arsenal’s third goal when fans’ favourite Aleksandr Hleb came on against his old club to a standing ovation.
ARSENAL: Cech, Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Koscielny (Sokratis, 56), Monreal, Guendouzi (Torreira, 64), Xhaka, Mkhitaryan (Suarez, 78), Ozil, Iwobi, Aubameyang.
Substitutes not used: Leno, Kolasinac, Ramsey, Nketiah.
BATE BORISOV: Scherbitski, Rios, Volkov, Stasevich, Filipovic, Simovic, Dragun (Berezkin, 64), Milic, Baga (Hleb, 58), Stasevich, Skavysh (Dubajic, 72).
Substitutes not used: Chichkan, Yablonski, Nemirko, Moukam.