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Arsenal 4-1 CSKA: Iwobi impress as Musa nears Europa exit

Europa League By: Ambrose Udeme | 05/04/2018

Alex Iwobi, Arsenal FC

Alex Iwobi won the battle of Nigerians during Thursday's UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg fixture as he saw off Ahmed Musa's CSKA Moscow 4-1 with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

While Musa started and played for 83 minutes before making way for Khosonov, Iwobi came off the bench to replace Mkhitaryan who limped off after landing awkwardly, one minute after the hour mark.

Aaron Ramsey
finished a superb move to put Arsenal in front before Golovin curled in a 25-yard free-kick for the equaliser.

Alexandre Lacazette restored Arsenal's lead from the spot penalty after Ozil was fouled before Ramsey got his brace with a brilliant flick on a volley. Lacazette also bagged a brace, ten minutes from time with a close-range finish as Arsenal led 4-1 at the break.

SETTING THE SCENE

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger named Petr Cech in the Arsenal starting line-up as against his Cup goalie David Ospina to shock of many fans.

Cech missed Sunday's 3-0 win over Stoke to a groin injury but trained on Wednesday with his team-mates. The 35-year-old had not appeared in the Europa League this season with Ospina starting the majority of the games.

Cech's start was one of five changes made by Wenger from the weekend. Laurent Koscielny came into central defence alongside Shkodran Mustafi.

Granit Xhaka replaced Mohamed Elneny in midfield and was partnered by Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan started ahead of Danny Welbeck and Alexandre Lacazette replaced Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in attack. Ahmed Musa, on loan from Premier League side Leicester City, started for CSKA.

FIRST HALF

In a frenetic first half, Arsenal blew the Russian visitors away with a brilliant display of incisive attacking play to score four times – although they did give up an away goal.

The Gunners started with real intent, with Henrikjh Mkhitaryan hitting the sidenetting and Ramsey having a goal disallowed within the opening seven minutes – but the home team did not have long to wait for the opener.

Moments later a slick attack saw Mesut Ozil find Hector Bellerin in space down the right flank, and the Spaniard slid it across goal for Ramsey to fire high into the roof of the net.

For all of Arsenals delight at the goal, their lead was shortlived as CSKA came down the other end and won a free kick on the edge of the area after a foul by Laurent Koscielny. Aleksandr Golovin stepped up and curled a fine shot over the wall and beyond Petr Cech to equalise.

Ahmed Musa nearly gave the visitors the lead shortly afterwards, and the situation demanded a response – and how Arsenal responded.

Six minutes later Arsenal won a penalty – their third in two games – and Ozil was hauled down in the box – and Lacazette made no mistake from the spot.

Not long afterwards Ramsey scored a goal that will live long in the Emirates Stadium annals as he raced into the box to meet a lofted Ozil pass and flicked it with the back of his foot up and over Igor Akinfeev to extend Arsenal's advantage. It was a jaw-dropping strike from the Welshman and the replays drew admiring gasps all around Emirates Stadium.

Things soon got even better as Lacazette scored his second of the evening, lashing the ball into the bottom corner after being picked out in the area, before Ozil went close to making it five just before the interval.

SECOND HALF

The home side started the second half as they ended the first, and Mkhitaryan came so close to adding to the scoreline but screwed his shot wide from close range.

Ramsey nearly had his hat-trick but saw a shot from 10 yards out deflected wide, while he went close again soon afterwards after Mkhitaryan had stung Akinfeev’s hands with a fierce drive.

It was Lacazette’s turn to go close to claiming his treble in the 67th minute after Iwobi’s cross-cum-shot found him at the back post, but the Frenchman couldn’t get his effort on target from a tight angle.

Wenger's men continued to press for a fifth, with Ozil testing Akinfeev before Ramsey hit the post with a curling effort from the edge of the area.

Danny Welbeck – on for Lacazette – was denied by the CSKA keeper from close range after being picked out by Ramsey in the closing stages, before the Wales international dragged a shot wide himself moments later.

The final whistle was greeted with a big roar from the home fans – this was quite a performance to rack up their fifth win on the bounce.

This victory means Arsenal travel to Moscow next week with a healthy advantage to protect in the second leg of this quarter-final clash. The last time the Gunners travelled to CSKA Moscow, back in 2006, they lost 1-0 in the Russian capital.
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