Arsenal 4-1 CSKA Moscow
Definitely didn't think that was going to end 4-1 at half-time. Aaron Ramsey went so close to a hat-trick when he hit the post.
Mesut Ozil was utterly brilliant throughout the game. A true joy to watch today.
Arsenal 4-1 CSKA Moscow
Job practically done for Arsenal. All they need to do to reach the Europa League semi-finals is avoid a three-goal defeat in Moscow next Thursday.
They could have won this 7-2 really.
Here are the results from the other quarer-final first legs:
Lazio 4-2 Salzburg
Atletico 2-0 Sporting
Leipzig 1-0 Marseille
90+2 min: Ozil tries to create one last goal. But his low cross from the left is intercepted by Akinfeev.
89 min: There will be at least four more minutes.
87 min: There’s a couple of hundred bare-chested CSKA fans jumping up and down and singing. There are easier ways to keep warm Such as putting a shirt on. But there’s no fun in that, apparently.
85 min: Iwobi pokes a clever pass through to Ramsey, who has a clear sight of goal from eight yards, at the left-hand side of the box. Is this his hat-trick? Nope, he skews his shot wide of the far post.
84 min: Ramsey curls over a cross from the right. Welbeck dips in front of his marker and tries to turn the ball towards goal from close range. Akinfeev spreads himself to make a good block.
CSKA substitution: Khosonov on, Musa off
80 min: There’s little to suggest that CSKA are capable of winning 3-0 in Moscow, but Arsenal should be dissatisfied if they don’t score at least a fifth goal today.
77 min: Ozil wrongfoots half the CSKA defense with a foxy dummy 10 yards inside opposition territory. Arsenal then begins probing around the box. Ozil joins in again, tipping a nice pass through to Iwobi at the edge of the area. Iwobi smartly picks out Ramsey in the middle. The Welshman’s side-footer from 16 yards bounces out off the post!
Arsenal substitutions: Welbeck and Elneny on, Lacazette and Wilshere off
72 min: Wilshere sends Iwobi galloping down the left. The Nigeria international tries to play in Lacazette. The striker dummies it near the penalty spot, allowing it to roll over to Ozil, who tries to guide a curler into the far corner. Denied by Akinfeev!
71 min: Arsenal pen CSKa into their own box. Then Ozil clips a diagonal pass towards the far post. Monreal’s climbs above a defender but his header lacks enough power to trouble Akinfeev.
69 min: Arsenal are besieging the visitors’ goal. Alex Berezutski clears a low Ozil cross at the near post.
67 min: Ozil bisects the CSKA defense with another superb pass. Iwobi runs on to it in what must be called the Thierry Henry position. Will he curl it around the keeper and in at the far post? No, he tries to square it for Lacazette. But it’s slightly overhit and the striker ends up having to fire it back across goal from a tight angle.
64 min: Musa wriggles down the left and slips a ball into the penalty area. It runs to Wernbloom, who tries to bundle it past Cech. The keeper saves but the rebound is headed into the net ... by an offside player (Golovin?). No goal. Arsenal need to be careful here: there’s a big difference between going to Moscow with a 4-2 lead rather than 4-1. OK, by big difference I mean one goal. But a degree of psychological comfort, too.
62 min: Good move by CSKA but Shennikov ruins the money shot after being primed by Wernbloom.
63 min: Alex Berezeutski makes a crucial interception to foil a counter-attack, cutting out Wilshere overly-delayed pass towards Lacazette.
Arsenal substitution: Mkhitaryan seems to have damaged his knee in that tackle by Shennikov. He can’t continue and is replaced by Iwobi.
60 min: Strong sliding tackle by Mustafi on Musa, fair and true.
58 min: Shennikov booked for clattering into Mkhitaryan near half-way.
56 min: Mkhitaryan unleashes a shot from 25 yards, Akinfeev only parries it and Wilshere runs in to try to stab him the rebound. But a defender gets a foot to it first, succeeding only in nudging it towards the penalty spot. Ramsey charges in and, under pressure, wellies a shot just over the bar!
55 min: CSKA seems a bit deflated.
52 min: Super move by Arsenal! Monreal began it and, after swapping quick passes with Wilshere and Mkhitaryan, he cut a pass back from the byline to Ramsey, who hat-trick attempt from 12 yards was deflected out for a corner
50 min: Mustafi meets the corner at the near post but only heads it up in the air. Cech rushes off his line to punch it farther away.
49 min: CSKA remain enterprising but they haven’t shown the quality around the box that Arsenal have. But they’ve won a corner just now ...
47 min: 71 seconds into the second half, Ozil begins wielding his wand again. He conjures a wonderful pass from near the right-hand corner of the box to Xhaka on the far side. Xhaka takes it down but can’t get off a clean shot, blemming over.
46 min: Off we go again. Neither side made any subs during the break.
Here are the half-time scores from the other Europa League quarter-finals:
Lazio 1-1 Salzburg
Atletico 2-0 Sporting
Leipzig 1-0 Marseille
Half-time: Arsenal 4-1 CSKA
What an entertaining half that was! Arsenal have been vulnerable defensively but excellent going forward and they can be confident of putting this tie to bed today. Ozil is orchestrating things beautifully and Ramsey’s movement is a total mystery to the Russian defense - and his second goal was a marvel. More please!
44 min: Bellerin skitters down the right, prompted by a lovely pass from Mkhitaryan. The cross is cleared but Arsenal quickly regains possession. Xhaka flights a canny pass over the top towards Ozil, steaming in at the back post. He tries to flip a first-time shot past the keeper from an acute angle but sends it a couple of yards over the bar. It’s the first time his precision has dropped below exquisite today.
43 min: Musa dashes forward again. He’s being closed down by several defenders so fires off a shot from 20 yards before they can reach him. He doesn’t catch it cleanly, though, and Cech saves easily.
42 min: Dzagoev has another pop, this time a snapshot from 20 yards. He found space well but fails to control his shot, which veers off into the stands. But at least CSKA do not seem too disheartened by the scoreline: they’re right to suspect there are more away goals available to them. But Arsenal can be confident of scoring more themselves. There’s no telling how this will end.
40 min: That’s better from Musa! he sprints past Bellerin, no less, and plays a smart low pass into Dzagoev ... who blazes over from 15 yards!
37 min: CSKA probe again. Musa is caught offside again.
GOAL! Arsenal 4-1 CSKA (Lacazette 35)
Xhaka opens up the defense with a pass to Ozil on the left wing. The German canters forward and looks up before picking out Lacazette, who takes a to control it about 12 yards out and then slams a low shot into the net. Arsenal could wrap this tie-up today!
33 min: Ramsey makes another run into the box unnoticed by the Russian defense. But Monreal spots him alright and clips a nice pass in his direction. The time, alas, Ramsey fluffs his attempted finish, mistiming his jump and sending his shot way off target. But you can be sure he’ll get his hat-trick soon if CSKA doesn’t wise up to his movement.
31 min: Koscielny, who’s had an unsteady start, slides into nick the ball off Dzagoev and curtail a counter-attack.
GOAL! Arsenal 3-1 CSKA (Ramsey 28)
What a brilliant goal! Ozil sent a dainty chip over the defense. Ramsey ran on to it, sensed the keeper had crept off his line and bent his leg into the shape of a chicken wing in order to guide a deliciously deft lob over the advancing keeper from 12 yards and into the net! That’s a work of art!
27 min: The highly influential Golovin slips a pass through to Musa, who shimmies past Mustafi at the edge of the area ... and then twonks a terrible shot way wide.
24 min: Both sides are neat and cutting in possession and quite ropey in defense: there’ll be a good deal more scoring before the game is out, I fancy.
GOAL! Arsenal 2-1 CSKA (Lacazette pen 23)
The Frenchman sends the keeper one way and the ball the other way, low and into the corner!
Penalty to Arsenal!
Ozil goes down under a tackle by Shennikov!
21 min: Slick interplay between Ozil and Mkhitaryan, followed by a dummy by Bellerin to allow the ball to roll through to Lacazette in the box. But the flag goes up for offside, again incorrectly.
19 min: Wilshere and Xhaka combine well to cut through midfield. Xhaka sends a pass wide to Lacazette on the right. The Frenchman’s cross is put behind for a corner, which is cleared without fuss.
17 min: CSKA are not satisfied: they want more. And if their ambition is based on the belief that Arsenal’s defense is flaky, they’re being vindicated: Musa has just sidestepped Koscielny in the box and found himself one-on-one with Cech from a tight angle. But he miscues shot, blasting low into the side-netting. Those familiar jitters are now audible around the Emirates...
GOAL! Arsenal 1-1 CSKA (Golovin 15)
Golovin curls a sweet 23-yard freekick over the wall and into the top corner! That’s a precious away goal and a fine way to punish Arsenal for sloppy defending.
4 min: CSKA are mounting a spell of pressure. And now they have a great chance to test Cech, as Koscielny makes a clumsy aerial challenge to concede a freekick just outside the D.
GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 CSKA (Ramsey 9)
Another sweeping move from Arsenal concludes with Ozil slipping the ball wide to Bellerin, who sends over a low cross to Ramsey, who guides a first-time shot into the net from 10 yards.
7 min: Ramsey makes a burst from deep and sidefoots a cross from the right into the net from six yards! But that, too, is ruled out for offside. The replay is less conclusive on this one: he may have been level with the last man.
6 min: Shennikov shanks a cross from the left after being played into a lot of space. That’s another let-off for Arsenal and another warning that CSKA has come in search of any away goal, at least.
5 min: Wernbloom outjumps Koscielny to flick on a long pass to Musa, who is suddenly running clear on goal! But he’s pulled back for offside - the replay shows that was a flawed call and Arsenal are very lucky!
4 min: Monreal scapers down the left to collect a pass from Ramsey. The Spaniard cuts the ball back from the byline to Ozil, who picks out Mkhitaryan near the middle. He has a bang from 10 yards but it flies into the side-netting. Cracking move, though!
2 min: Ozil receives the ball mid-way inside the opposing half. He swivels and immediately looks to release Lacazette. But his threaded pass is cut out by Ignasheveich.
1 min: Arsenal kick off, Lacazette rolling the ball to Ozil. That’s a100% pass completion so far, stats fans.
Here come the teams. Arsenal are wearing their traditional garb, while the visitors are all black, so the officials have plumped for yellow. I can’t see whether the Emirates is full but in terms of sound, the atmosphere is not exactly Anfield On A Big European Night – more like Anfield on an average Premier League afternoon.
“This is an opportunity and we have to make it a great opportunity. It is a little bit tricky when you play the first game at home to find the balance between going forward and defending because of the weight of the away goal.” Asked whether it is a risk to reinstate Lacazette for a first start after a two-month layoff following knee surgery, he says: “It is a little bit. Will he last the whole game? Certainly not. But Danny Welbeck had a back problem so the decision was easy.” Regarding the goalkeeper decision, he explains that Ospina suffered an ankle injury in training yesterday so it is not necessarily the case that Cech has been restored as the permanent No1 for this competition.
No messing about from Wenger with this line-up. He’s even restored Cech in goal (with 23-year-old Matt Macey the back-up on the bench). Koscielny comes back into the side and so does Lacazette in place of the cup-tied Aubameyang. He’ll be up against a defense that has few peers for experience, at least. Other visitors they’ll have to be particularly wary of are Alan Dzagoev, an attacking midfielder who can be slinky on his day; and maybe Ahmed Musa, who may have made a little impact while at Leicester but has enjoyed his best days in CSKA’s colors.
33 Petr Cech
6 Laurent Koscielny
20 Shkodran Mustafi
18 Nacho Monreal
24 Héctor Bellerín
10 Jack Wilshere
29 Granit Xhaka
8 Aaron Ramsey
9 Alexandre Lacazette
77 Henrikh Mkhitaryan
11 Mesut Özil
35 Igor Akinfeev
24 Vasili Berezutski
6 Aleksei Berezutski
4 Sergei Ignashevich
66 Bibras Natcho
17 Aleksandr Golovin
10 Alan Dzagoev
42 Georgi Schennikov
89 Konstantin Kuchaev
3 Pontus Wernbloom
7 Ahmed Musa