Arsenal were made to work for their place in the Europa League semi finals as they denied a valiant comeback by CSKA Moscow. Second half goals from Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey confirmed the Gunners' progression in the tournament, but the scoreline flattered the visiting side.
Arsenal made one change from the first leg at the Emirates with Mohamed Elneny coming in for Granit Xhaka. The Switzerland international was a last minute absentee after failing to recover from illness. Meanwhile, the hosts welcomed back Kirill Nababkin who missed the first leg through suspension.
CSKA made two other changes, with Kristijan Bistrovic and Fedor Chalov coming in for Bribas Natcho and Pontus Wernbloom.
CSKA had most of the early chances, but failed to capitalise on a couple of stray Arsenal passes. Ahmed Musa was played through after an error at the back by the Gunners, but Petr Cech was on hand to dutifully collect.
Twenty minutes in and neither side had registered an attempt on goal. It was the home side who finally made the first meaningful strides, with Kristijan Bistrovic's low effort from outside the box going well wide of the target.
We've just had our first chance - @LacazetteAlex gets on the end of a flowing break, but his shot is deflected behind— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 12, 2018
What have you made of the opening stages?#CSKAvAFC 0-0 (27)
(1-4 agg) pic.twitter.com/tTNmLFdfUA
Arsenal sprung quickly on the counter attack on 27 minutes with Danny Welbeck sending Alexandre Lacazette away on goal. A good sliding block from a CSKA defender denied the Frenchman an attempt on target.
A huge blow for CSKA came on the half hour mark as Alan Dzagoev signalled to bench that he needed to come off. The 27-year-old appeared to pull up with a hamstring or groin problem and was replaced by Vitinho in an attacking change for the Russian side.
Vitinho's impact was instant as he exchanged passes with Konstantin Kuchaev near the Arsenal touchline. Kuchaev whipped in a cross which was met by
No organisation out there whatsoever. Players just standing around arguing amongst themselves. Really poor from Cech for the goal.— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) April 12, 2018
The atmosphere softened, the home fans grew quieter and CSKA's intensity diminished. Welbeck's goal had put the Gunners back in control as they closed out the final minutes of the tie. Arsenal could have a had a second when Alex Iwobi was teed up by Mesut Ozil but fired wide of the bottom corner.
It was Aaron Ramsey who killed off the game once and for all. In injury time, the Welshman was played through by Elneny and had all the time in the world to finish over Igor Akinfeev.