Thursday 19 April 2018

Gunners show off their firepower to put four past feeble CSKA

Arsenal 4 CSKA Moscow 1

Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey celebrates scoring their third goal. Photo: Reuters
Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey celebrates scoring their third goal. Photo: Reuters

Jason Burt

Again there were empty seats at the Emirates but at least Arsenal were full of goals.

They took control of this Europa League quarter-final against a defensively woeful CSKA Moscow, even if they were far from invulnerable themselves.

However, with their season on the line, with the Europa League - and with it qualification for the Champions League - their only possible salvation, Arsenal surely racked up enough of an advantage to make next week's return leg in Russia less taxing.

The Gunners had already had an effort from Aaron Ramsey ruled out for offside when the midfielder struck again.

This time it counted as they cut through CSKA with a rapid exchange of passes - Jack Wilshere to Mesut Ozil and out wide right to Hector Bellerin, smartly pulling the ball back to Ramsey (right) who slammed it high into the net.

There is, of course, something fundamentally vulnerable about this Arsenal and so they quickly and needlessly conceded.

It came after a rash foul by their captain Laurent Koscielny who clumsily gave away a free-kick on the edge of his own penalty area.

Up stepped Aleksandr Golovin and he curled a superb free-kick which caught out Petr Cech.

CSKA had an away goal and should have had two when Ahmed Musa, on loan from Leicester City, simply pushed the ball past Bellerin and Shkodran Mustafi but then shot wastefully into the side-netting when he had a clear sight of goal.

It was Arsenal who struck again to reclaim the lead with Ozil bursting into the area after exchanging passes with Ramsey.

He appeared to be stumbling anyway but Georgi Schennikov made an unnecessary challenge and Ozil went over and Czech referee Pavel Kralovec pointed to the spot.

From there Alexandre Lacazette drilled a low shot to beat goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

The Gunners sensed more goals and scored the pick of the bunch with Ozil dinking the ball through to Ramsey and the midfielder improvised wonderfully to volley the ball in mid-air with the outside of his right boot, with it looping over Akinfeev.

Minutes later and the unmarked Lacazette scored again.

Once more there was an assist from Ozil who hit the byline down the left and pulled back a cross that a ponderous Aleksei Berezutski should have cut out. But it ran to Lacazette who again beat Akinfeev.

As porous as they were, CSKA did continue to create and Schennikov shot wildly over when picked out on an overlap before Cech blocked from Pontus Wernbloom and Dzagoev headed home the ricochet only to be flagged for offside.

Surely there would be another goal and Arsenal, and Ramsey, again went close when his first-time, side-footed shot from the area's edge thumped back off the post after he collected a short pass from substitute Alex Iwobi.

Remarkably, the second half ended goalless. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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