Arsenal put one foot in the Europa League semi-finals after beating CSKA Moscow 4-1 in the first leg of their quarter-final tie at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night.
Arsenal 4 CSKA Moscow 1
Ramsey (9′) slots home Bellerin’s cross
Golovin (15′) equalises with fine free-kick
Lacazette (23′) nets from the penalty spot
Ramsey (28′) scores with improvised lob
Lacazette (35′) wraps up impressive win
All five goals came in the first half, with Aaron Ramsey opening the scoring after just nine minutes, before Aleksandr Golovin equalised on the quarter-hour mark.
Alexandre Lacazette quickly restored the Gunners’ lead from the spot on 23 minutes and Ramsey bagged his second of the match five minutes later followed by the Frenchman’s brace 10 minutes before half-time.
The hosts looked to get on the front foot early on and Henrikh Mkhitaryan hit the side-netting in the fourth minute from inside the area on the left after being picked out by Mesut Ozil’s cut-back.
They were finding plenty of space in the final third and Ramsey was able to capitalise on nine minutes when he beat Igor Akinfeev with a first-time shot from 10 yards out after connecting with Hector Bellerin’s low cross from the right.
The Horses hit back just six minutes later, however, courtesy of a superb free-kick from Golovin, who curled the ball over the ball into the top-right corner of the net from 20 yards out.
Ahmed Musa wasted a glorious chance to put them ahead soon afterwards as he wrong-footed two defenders with quick a quick shift to his left, but could only find the side-netting.
But the north Londoners restored their lead midway through the first half from the penalty spot. Ozil was brought down from behind by Giorgi Shchennikov inside the box on the right, and Lacazette slotted his spot-kick to the left of Akinfeev.
Ramsey punished poor marking from the visitors again on 28 minutes as he latched onto Ozil’s ball over the top and lobbed the advancing Akinfeev with a neat finish on the outside of his foot.
Viktor Goncharenko’s men continued to attack, though, and Vassili Berezutskislices sliced a rising effort wide of the right post from 19 yards out on the half-hour mark.
However, the Gunners struck again five minutes later with a clinical left-footed strike from Lacazette, who took a good first touch from Ozil’s cross on the left and picked out the bottom-left corner of the net from 14 yards out.
Musa’s pace took him beyond Bellerin on 39 minutes and he advanced to the byline before cutting the ball back for Alan Dzagoev, who failed to keep his shot down from 12 yards out.
The final chance of an entertaining first half saw Ozil attempt something special from Granit Xhaka’s cross to the back post from the right on 44 minutes, but the German cleared the crossbar on the half-volley from the edge of the six-yard box.
Mkhitaryan should have made it five at the start of the second half when Ozil found him in space on the left, but the Armenian midfielder dragged a left-footed shot wide of the right post, while Ramsey was denied by the heel of Sergei Ignashevich after meeting Nacho Monreal’s cut-back in the 52nd minute.
Ramsey passed up another opportunity to bag a hat-trick three minutes later as he directed a half-volley over the target after Mkhitaryan’s initial strike rebounded into his path.
The visitors had the ball in the back of the net on 64 minutes when Dzagoev nodded home from close range after Pontus Wernbloom’s shot had looped up into the air off Petr Cech, but the Russian winger was flagged offside.
Ozil forced Akinfeev into a decent save with his first-time shot from 16 yards out on the right in the 73rd minute after running onto a low cross from Alex Iwobi, who teed up Ramsey four minutes later, but his curling effort hit the right post.
Ramsey almost turned provider on 79 minutes with a dangerous cross from the right that found Danny Welbeck, but Akinfeev pulled off a sharp save at close range.
The Welsh midfielder squandered another chance late on as he drilled an effort across Akinfeev and wide of the right post from 10 yards out on the left.
Wernbloom nearly pulled one back for the Moscow giants in the final minute after losing Shkodran Mustafi with a neat turn on the edge of the box, but he curled the ball wide of the left post.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) 5 April 2018