Walcott stars as Gunners dispatch BATE

Theo Walcott

Arsenal made it two Europa League wins from two in Group H after beating BATE 4-2 at the Borisov Arena on Thursday, with Theo Walcott bagging a brace.

BATE 2 Arsenal 4
Walcott scores first-half brace
Holding bags first goal for the club
Ivanic header pulls one back
Giroud converts second-half penalty
Gordeychuk halves the deficit

Match Summary

Arsene Wenger’s side took command of the tie with three goals inside the opening 25 minutes, although the hosts found a response soon afterwards to keep their hopes alive.

The Gunners struck again shortly after the break before the Borisov outfit halved the deficit and went in search of more goals, which saw the visitors defend for the final half-hour to see out the game.

Full Report

The Gunners were in the ascendancy early on and almost broke the deadlock in the eighth minute when Walcott linked up with Jack Wilshere before hitting the left post from inside the box.

But the winger opened the scoring a minute later following good work from Wilshere, who played a one-two with Olivier Giroud before sending in a cross from the left that Walcott converted at the second attempt from point-blank range after Denis Scherbitski had saved his initial header.

Mirko Ivanic looked to respond for the hosts with a volley from 20 yards out that flew inches wide of the left post on 20 minutes, after Igor Stasevich’s cross on the left had been cleared into his path.

But a howler from Scherbitski gifted Walcott his second goal of the game two minutes later when the keeper passed the ball straight to the England international, who fired into the bottom-left corner of the net from 12 yards out.

Nemanja Milunovic made a vital interception to prevent Giroud from extending the visitors’ lead on 25 minutes, after Wilshere had played in Ashley Maitland-Niles on the left and he attempted to pick out the Frenchman.

However, the north Londoners scored from the resulting corner, which the home defence failed to clear, as Rob Holding steered home from close range.

A first Arsenal goal for @rholding95! ?? #COYG #AFC #Arsenal

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BATE hit back just three minutes later, though, when Ivanic directed a header past David Ospina at his near post from Alexei Rios’ cross on the right.

The Montenegrin midfielder threatened again on 33 minutes when he broke into the area and got off a shot that was saved by Ospina low to his left.

Scherbitski then pulled off a smart save to deny Walcott from an acute angle on the right in the 43rd minute, and Holding struck the left post from the resulting corner after the defence allowed the ball to bounce in the six-yard box yet again.

The Gunners restored their three-goal cushion just four minutes into the second half with a penalty from Giroud – his 100th Arsenal goal – after the referee had spotted an infringement in the area from a free-kick.

The real OG #100livier #Arsenal #AFC #COYG

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Alyaksandr Yermakovich’s men refused to give up, however, and Rios saw his flicked header stopped by Ospina from a 57th-minute free-kick on the left, while Stasevich blazed a long-range effort way over the crossbar three minutes later.

The visiting goal was coming under siege as Rios hit a shot with the outside of his right foot from 25 yards out that didn’t have enough swerve on it to find the left corner of the goal on 63 minutes.

The champions of Belarus managed to pull another one back four minutes later when Ivanic forced Ospina into a save with his header from eight yards out and Mikhail Gordeychuk blasted home on the rebound.

Aliaksandr Volodko should have reduced the deficit to one on 71 minutes when he missed the target from 14 yards out, having been picked out by Signevich’s cutback from the left, before the latter forced Ospina into a save at his near post four minutes later with an angled drive from inside the area.

The final chance of the match saw Rios fire over from 22 yards out after being teed up by Gordeychuk’s flick in the 89th minute.

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