Sat, Apr 14, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Arsenal survive Moscow scare to reach semi-finals

AFP, MOSCOW

Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette, right, vies for the ball with CSKA Moscow defender Aleksei Berezutski on Thursday in their UEFA Europa League quarter-final second leg at the Arena CSKA in Moscow.

Photo: AFP

Arsenal on Thursday survived a scare as they progressed to the last four of the Europa League after coming back to draw 2-2 with CSKA Moscow in Russia in their quarter-final second leg.

Fedor Chalov and Kirill Nababkin scored for CSKA to set Arsenal nerves jangling in the Russian capital, but Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey both netted late on for the Premier League side as they won the quarter-final 6-3 on aggregate.

It was another night of comebacks in a crazy midweek in Europe, with Olympique de Marseille and Red Bull Salzburg producing stirring performances to overturn first-leg deficits.

Atletico Madrid are also through, and remain the favorites, despite losing 1-0 on the night away to Portugal’s Sporting.

Arsene Wenger was without Granit Xhaka and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in Moscow so Mohamed Elneny and Welbeck came in as the two changes to the team that won the first leg 4-1.

Clinging to the Europa League to rescue their season as they languish well out of the running for a top-four finish in the Premier League, the Gunners came close to suffering a humiliating defeat at the Arena CSKA.

The hosts, spurred on by a 29,000 crowd, went ahead six minutes before the interval when Chalov followed in to score after Petr Cech had saved low down from Nababkin.

CSKA hopes were raised further as Nababkin made it 2-0 in the 50th minute after Cech had beaten away Alexander Golovin’s long-range strike.

However, Arsenal ended any doubt with quarter-of-an-hour left as Welbeck played a brilliant one-two with Elneny before finishing sweetly into the corner to reduce the deficit on the night and extend their lead in the tie.

Elneny then sent Ramsey — scorer of a brace in the first leg — away to score Arsenal’s equalizer on the night in stoppage-time.

“Maybe we were a bit surprised by the intensity of the game and we were not in the races in the first half. We were a bit on the ropes, but we had a good response,” Wenger told BT Sport after Arsenal secured a first European semi-final appearance since 2009.

“It should be every year. It’s never enough. You could see this week in Europe that you had a lot of turnarounds and you need to be completely focused, so let’s be prepared and see who we play,” Wenger said.

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