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Slavia Prague vs Arsenal. UEFA Europa League Quarter Final.

Eden Arena.

Slavia Prague 0

    Arsenal 4

    • N Pepe (18th minute)
    • A Lacazette (21st minute pen, 77th minute)
    • B Saka (24th minute)


    Slavia Prague 0-4 Arsenal (Agg: 1-5): Gunners cruise into Europa League semi-finals

    Match report as Arsenal win 4-0 at Slavia Prague to progress to the Europa League semi-finals 5-1 on aggregate; Alexandre Lacazette scores in each half, including a penalty, with Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka also on target; Gunners will now face Villarreal in the last four

    Arsenal's Alexandre Lacazette celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side's second goal from the penalty spot during the Europa League quarter final second leg soccer match between Slavia Prague and Arsenal
    Image: Arsenal celebrate after Alexandre Lacazette made it 2-0 from the penalty spot

    A blistering first-half display saw Arsenal cruise past Slavia Prague 4-0 to progress to the Europa League semi-finals 5-1 on aggregate.

    The visitors arrived in the Czech capital knowing they had to score to have a chance of qualifying against a Slavia team who had not lost at the Eden Arena for 18 months, but they had an early 'goal' ruled out by the Video Assistant Referee for the tightest of offsides against Emile Smith Rowe.

    However, Mikel Arteta's side soon made up for that disappointment when Nicolas Pepe's neat, close-range finish gave them a deserved 18th-minute lead, which they soon doubled thanks to Alexandre Lacazette's penalty (21).

    Three minutes later Arsenal were in dreamland when Bukayo Saka's low drive from the edge of the box made it 3-0, with their captain Lacazette grabbing his second of the night with 13 minutes to go to add the icing on the cake.

    Arsenal will now face Villarreal and their former manager Unai Emery in the semi-finals, with the first leg in Spain on April 29, before the return leg at the Emirates on May 6.

    Player ratings

    Slavia Prague: Kolar (6), Bah (6), Holes (6), Zima (6), Boril (6), Hromada (6), Stanciu (6), Provod (7), Olayinka (7), Kuchta (6), Sevcik (6)

    Subs: Tecl (6), Masopust (6), Lingr (6), Visinsky (6), Dorley (6)
    Arsenal: Leno (6), Chambers (7), Holding (7), Mari (7), Saka (8), Xhaka (7), Partey (7), Ceballos (7), Smith Rowe (9), Pepe (7), Lacazette (7)

    Subs: Cedric (6), Elneny (6), Martinelli (6), Nketiah (6), Balogun (6)

    Man of the match: Emile Smith Rowe

    How Arsenal blew Slavia away

    Arsenal advanced to their third Europa League semi-final in the last four years thanks to a devastating first-half performance in Prague against opponents who rarely lose at home.

    Slavia were unable to live with the Gunners before half-time as the visitors tore into their hosts right from the kick-off, going in search of the goal they needed to have any chance of making the semi-finals.

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    Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal (right) celebrates second goal of Arsenal during the FC European Football League quarterfinal match SK Slavia Prague vs Arsenal
    Image: Lacazette is congratulated by his team-mates after scoring his spot-kick

    They thought they had it after just 14 minutes when Saka cut in from the right and curled a shot against the inside of the post, with the help of a touch from Ondrej Kolar, Smith Rowe reacting quickest of all to sidefoot home into the empty net.

    After a length VAR check, though, the goal was ruled out for an extremely close offside call against Smith Rowe, who soon got over his disappointment to set up Pepe for the opener.

    The young Englishman showed quick feet in a tight space in the box, before cleverly feeding Pepe and the Ivory Coast forward held off a firm challenge from behind to score at the near post.

    Just moments later, Arsenal increased their lead as Smith Rowe broke free down the right and, from his pull back, Saka was fouled from behind by Jakub Hromada, with Lacazette stroking home the resulting penalty.

    Team news

    Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta made just one change with Emile Smith Rowe returning in place of Gabriel Martinelli, but captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did not recover from illness in time to make the squad, with Martin Odegaard's ankle niggle also keeping him on the sidelines.

    A rampant Arsenal added a third goal in the blink of an eye after a lovely flowing move saw Calum Chambers find Saka down the right, with the England international cutting back inside and beating a motionless Kolar at his near post with a low drive.

    That really was that, with the home team - who did not have a shot on target in the game - removing all their key players at half-time in order to preserve them for their title battle with city rivals Sparta Prague.

    Arsenal players celebrates after Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe scores his side's opening goal during the Europa League quarter final second leg soccer match between Slavia Prague and Arsenal
    Image: Arsenal players celebrate Nicolas Pepe's opener in Prague

    All of which allowed Arsenal, who were again missing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the forward continues his recovery from malaria, to add a fourth when Pepe got free down the left, before crossing for Lacazette to smash home his seventh goal in his last nine games for the club.

    End of Slavia's unbeaten home run - Opta stats

    • Slavia Prague suffered their first home defeat in their last seven European games (W3 D3), conceding more goals in this game (4) than in the previous six on home soil (3).
    • Arsenal have reached the semi-finals of European competition for the 10th time (including Fairs Cup), with the Gunners getting to the last four in three of their four UEFA Europa League campaigns.
    • Arsenal have scored 3+ goals in four consecutive away games in all competitions for the first time since December 1932 (5 games).
    • Arsenal kept a clean sheet in a European game for the first time in eight games, since a 3-0 away win over Molde in the UEFA Europa League in November 2020.
    • Nicolas Pépé has been directly involved in nine goals in his 10 starts for Arsenal in the UEFA Europa League (4 goals, 5 assists).
    • Emile Smith Rowe registered his seventh assist in all competitions this season, the joint-most of any Arsenal player in 2020-21 (level with Willian).
    • Only Radamel Falcao (20) and Kevin Gameiro (19) have scored more UEFA Europa League knockout stage goals than Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette (18).
    • Alexandre Lacazette has scored 2+ goals in consecutive games in all competitions for the first time for any club since his last three appearances for Lyon in May 2017.
    • With four goals to his name, Bukayo Saka is now Arsenal's joint-top teenage scorer in major European competition, level with Charlie George and Ray Kennedy.

    What the manager said...

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    Mikel Arteta says striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is recovering well and is hoping to be back in action soon, after contracting malaria.

    Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta: "For me it is a joy to watch them [Saka and Smith Rowe] play, to watch them every day in training.

    "How they behave, the passion and the commitment they have for the club. And then how much they like to play football.

    "You have to let them express themselves, and give them certain frameworks to work in and some ideas on how they can exploit their qualities. Then it is up to them and I thought both of them were really good today.

    "Credit to [all] the players, for how they approached the game and how brave they were in their approach.

    "We were brave, we were efficient, we put them under a lot of pressure. And in the final third we were really clinical.

    "We know how important the competition is."

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    Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta says he was very happy with their 4-0 Europa League quarter-final second leg win over Slavia Prague.

    Man of the Match - Emile Smith Rowe

    Smith Rowe returned to Arsenal's starting line-up in place of Gabriel Martinelli and boy were the visitors were glad as the youngster turned in yet another accomplished display for someone of his age.

    The 20-year-old was pretty much involved in all Arsenal's best moves, starting by showing alertness to fire his side ahead early on, only for the dreaded VAR to intervene and rule out that strike.

    Not that it mattered as soon his dancing feet in the box left a posse of Slavia defenders mesmerised, before a gorgeous pass set up Pepe for the crucial opener and he then found Saka in the move that led to the visitors winning a penalty.

    The England U21 international was also involved in the eye-catching move that led to Arsenal's third goal that killed the game off entirely, with the player now one of the first names down on Arteta's team sheet.

    Live Renault Super Sunday

    Pitch to Post preview podcast: Arsenal Europa reaction and more

    In the latest Pitch to Post Preview show, Kate Burlaga is joined by Ben Grounds, Adam Bate and Kaveh Solhekol to preview the weekend's football action.

    PART 1 - Everton vs Tottenham preview - top-four chances assessed | Is Spurs' Premier League position about right?

    PART 2 - West Ham looking for unprecedented top-four finish | Is Moyes manager of the year? | What is Jesse Lingard's future?

    PART 3 - Arsenal and Man Utd's Europa League chances after QF progression | Saka and Smith Rowe firing Gunners

    What's next?

    Slavia Prague travel to Liberec on Sunday afternoon (3pm).

    Meanwhile, Arsenal take on struggling Fulham at the Emirates on Sunday, with the game kicking off at 1.30pm on Sky Sports Premier League.

    Europa League semi-final draw

    First legs: April 29 | Second legs: May 6

    • Manchester United vs Roma
    • Villarreal vs Arsenal

    When and where is the Europa League final?

    The Europa League final takes place on Wednesday, May 26 at the Gdansk Arena in Poland. The stadium was due to host the 2020 final, but after the tournament was delayed due to Covid-19, the showpiece took place in Cologne, Germany as Sevilla beat Inter 3-2.

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