Arsenal put one foot in Europa League semi-finals after thrashing CSKA Moscow
Two goals each for Alexandre Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey give the Gunners a decisive lead over Russians after first leg of quarter-final
06 April, 2018 — By Paul Cowling
Europa League Quarter-Final 1st Leg
ARSENAL 4 (Ramsey 9, 28), Lacazette (23 Pen, 35)
CSKA MOSCOW 1 (Golovin 15)
ARSENE Wenger still feels “there is work to do” to progress to the Europa League semi-finals, despite seeing his Arsenal side overcome an early away goal to record a thumping 4-1 win against CSKA Moscow.
Alexandre Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey scored a couple of goals each to make the second leg in a week’s time a whole lot easier than Wenger might have anticipated.
“It was a difficult game, but at half-time we had scored so many great goals,” said Wenger. “Our target after that was not to concede any more.”
The Arsenal boss kept six of the side that started the 3-0 win over Stoke at the weekend as a noisy home crowd easily drowned out the animated chants from the few hundred bare-chested away fans gathered in the Clock End.
Arsenal zipped the ball about from the off, but had a Mesut Ozil goal chalked off on seven minutes for offside. There was no doubt two minutes later, however, when Aaron Ramsey hooked the ball into the net from a Hector Bellerin cross.
But from 1-0 up and 75 per cent possession, Arsenal were punished from a free-kick on 15 minutes when Alexsandr Golovin fired home to level the scores and give the Russian club an away goal.
The Gunners restored their lead from the penalty spot on 23 minutes. Ozil burst through on goal, but was scythed down by Georgi Schennikov. Alexandre Lacazette – making his first start since January 30 – coolly converted to make it 2-1.
Five minutes later it was 3-1 to Arsenal, and what a wonderful goal it was. Ozil chipped a delightful ball through to Ramsey, and the Welshman’s finish was sublime, as he back-heeled the ball in mid-air past a bemused Igor Akinfeev in the CSKA goal.
On 35 minutes Ozil fed the ball to Lacazatte who composed himself before firing home for his second goal of a highly entertaining match.
“It was a spectacular first half,” said Wenger.
Arsenal started the second half with chances to add further goals and put the tie beyond doubt, but a warning was fired across the bows when CSKA had a second away goal ruled offside on the hour mark.
Ramsey saw his curling shot rebound off the post in the 78th minute to deny him a merited hat-trick, but Arsenal – and Wenger – must feel positive that the mission to Moscow next week will be a fairly straightforward one.
“We will go there and try to win the game, but we have to focus,” added Wenger.
Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Mkhitaryan (Iwobi, 61), Ramsey, Xhaka, Wilshere (Elneny, 75); Ozil; Lacazette (Welbeck, 74)
Subs not used: Holding, Chambers, Kolasinac, Macey
CSKA Moscow: Akinfeev; A. Berezutski, Ignashevic, V.Berezutski; Golovin, Natcho (Milanov, 74), Dzagoev (Vitinho, 65); Kuchaev, Schennikov; Musa (Khosonov, 83), Wernbloom
Subs not used: Pomazun, Bistrovic, Chalov, Zhamaletdinov