Digital Football Journalist @ronnabe
Arsenal 3-0 BATE (3-1 agg): Much-improved performance sends dominant hosts through
Last Updated: 22/02/19 11:02am
Arsenal produced the vintage performance they needed to cruise into the Europa League last-16 with a 3-0 (3-1 agg) win over BATE.
Trailing 1-0 on aggregate from a shock defeat in the away leg, Arsenal's response was instant and they were given a helping hand to level the tie within four minutes when Zakhar Volkov turned Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's low cross into his own goal under no pressure.
Arsenal went ahead in the tie for the first time five minutes before the break, when Shkodran Mustafi headed home Granit Xhaka's corner at the far post.
The tie was still finely-balanced but a third goal would all-but seal Arsenal's progress, and it duly arrived on the hour when substitute Sokratis nodded in to an empty net when Denis Scherbitski missed his punch from another Xhaka corner.
Arsenal: Cech (6), Lichtsteiner (7), Koscielny (7), Mustafi (7), Monreal (7), Guendouzi (8), Xhaka (8), Mkhitaryan (8), Ozil (7), Iwobi (7), Aubameyang (6).
Subs: Sokratis (7), Torreira (6), Suarez (n/a).
BATE: Scherbitski (7), Rios (4), Volkov (5), Stasevich (6), Filipovic (5), Simovic (5), Dragun (5), Milic (6), Baga (5), Stasevich (5), Skavysh (6).
Subs: Hleb (5), Berezkin (5), Dubajic (5).
Man of the match: Matteo Guendouzi
Arsenal dominated the match and looked a different side from the one that was beaten in Belarus seven days ago.
Within two minutes Aubameyang shot straight at Scherbitski from a good position but Volkov gave him a lesson in finishing soon after, albeit at the wrong end, by turning the Gabon forward's low cross beyond his goalkeeper when he looked to have plenty of time to clear.
BATE briefly threatened an early response and Mustafi had to clear Maksim Skavysh's shot off the line, but the one-way traffic soon resumed. Alex Iwobi, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang all came close before Mustafi's bullet header from Xhaka's corner put them ahead on aggregate for the first time six minutes before the break.
An away goal would change all that, though, and within minutes of the restart the hosts missed several chances to clear Nemanja Milic's flick-on into the area, but were let off the hook when Skavysh shot straight at Petr Cech.
Having survived that scare, two became three on the hour mark. Laurent Koscielny had been taken off with a minor shin injury and within four minutes of replacing him, Sokratis could barely miss when Scherbitski came into no-man's land from another Xhaka corner and the ball landed squarely on his head six yards out.
An uphill challenge for the visitors had become even tougher and they were dealt another blow when Skavysh was withdrawn with a minor injury late on, but Arsenal were already in cruise control and strolling into the last 16, with their opponents revealed on Friday.
- Arsenal overturned a first leg defeat in a European two-legged tie for the first time since February 2010, when they knocked out Porto in the Champions League last 16.
- Arsenal have kept three consecutive clean sheets at the Emirates in European competition for the first time since a run of six shut-outs ending in April 2009 (including qualifiers).
- Including qualifiers, Belarusian sides have lost four of their five visits to English clubs in the UEFA Europa League; with only BATE Borisov winning away at Everton in December 2009.
- Arsenal substitutes have scored 13 goals in all competitions this season, more than any other Premier League side.
- Unai Emery has lost just one of his last 17 home games in the UEFA Europa League (W15 D1 L1), his Sevilla side losing 1-2 against Athletic Bilbao in the 2015/16 quarter final second leg.
- Arsenal's opener against BATE Borisov was their fastest in European competition since Lukas Podolski netted against Galatasaray (2 mins 1 sec) in the Champions League in December 2014.
- Seven of Shkodran Mustafi's eight goals for Arsenal in all competitions have come via his head.
- Granit Xhaka has provided two assists in a game for Arsenal for only the second time in all competitions, after setting up two goals against Leicester in the Premier League in August 2017.
- Mesut Ozil made his 19th appearance for Arsenal in all competitions this season, playing the full 90 minutes for only the seventh time in 2018-19.
Man of the match - Matteo Guendouzi
Arsenal had plenty of positive performances with everyone willing to take the ball and quality throughout the side, but Guendouzi really made the hosts tick, skipping past challenges, always looking forward and regularly spreading the ball wide to the overlapping Stephan Lichtsteiner and Nacho Monreal.
"His development with us is very important and he's playing with a lot of consistency. I think he's improving a lot, his quality is very impressive," said an impressed Unai Emery after full-time.