Arsenal recorded a 4-2 victory over BATE Borisov on Thursday night in the Europa League, with Theo Walcott, Rob Holding and Olivier Giroud getting on the scoresheet.
Arsenal came close to breaking the deadlock as early as the eighth minute. Youngsters Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock combined well to find Jack Wilshere, who found Theo Walcott in the box. The England international had plenty of time but only fired against the post.
The visitors were ahead soon afterwards and once again it Wilshere and Walcott were involved. Olivier Giroud set Wilshere free on the left edge of the box. The midfielder then produced an inch-perfect cross for Walcott.
The Bate goalkeeper parried his header, but the ball looked to be drifting towards goal and Walcott touched the ball over the line just to make sure.
Arsenal saw a goal disallowed for offside on 18 minutes, as Wilshere tapped home from Walcott’s cross replays showed that the referees assistant had made an error.
BATE offered their first real threat on 21 minutes, as Ivanic fired wide of goal from long-range. However, just a minute later and Arsenal doubled their lead. BATE goalkeeper Scherbitski made a terrible error by playing a clearance straight to Walcott in the box.
The forward advanced slightly before firing past the embarrassed BATE ‘keeper. The Gunners were three up on the quarter mark. Per Mertesacker headed a corner kick towards goal and the ball hit Rob Holding on the shin before bouncing into the net.
The three-goal advantage lasted just two minutes, though. The dangerous Ivanic headed home past David Ospina. The goal seemed to buoy the home side and Ospina produced a good save from a diving header from Stanislav Dragun. The referee’s assistant had his flag up for offside anyway, but the Colombian did not know and made the save.
Soon afterwards the Colombian ‘keeper was called upon again, as he had to get down low to deny Ivanic. Scherbitski at the other end of the pitch saved a Giroud effort comfortably.
Just before half time, the home side could have been reduced to ten men, when Milunovic appeared to elbow Willock in the face. In the last minute of the first period, Walcott saw a low effort tipped just wide of the far post by BATE ‘keeper Scherbitski.
From the resulting corner Kick, Holding came close to doubling his tally, but the defender saw his powerful effort from Mertesacker’s lay smash back off the woodwork.
Arsenal extended their lead four minutes into the second half. The Gunners were awarded a very soft penalty kick after Drugan was involved in a scuffle with Mustafi. The referee then pointed to the spot and Giroud calmly slotted home from the spot for his century of Arsenal goals.
Ospina produced a good save on 57 minutes from Signevich. The home side looked slightly more dangerous, with Statsevich firing well over the bar from long-range on the hour mark and two minutes later Rios also fired just wide of Ospina’s post from long-range.
BATE scored their second goal of the night on 67 minutes. Ivanic headed a Volodko cross straight at Ospina, who parried the playmakers effort straight to Gordeichuk, who smashed the ball into the top of the net.
The home side missed a golden opportunity on 70 minutes, as Maksim Volodko’s cross landed at the feet of Aleksander just inside the area, only for the BATE man fired wide when completely unmarked.
BATE continued to threaten with Stasevich seeing two efforts on goal in quick succession saved comfortably by Ospina. Giroud then slashed an effort wide of goal in a rare Arsenal attack. The French striker also put an effort on the top of the BATE’s goal, as he attempted to chip Scherbitski.
In the last ten minutes, Walcott fired wide of goal from an acute angle. BATE dominated possession towards the end of the game as Arsenal dropped deeper. Rios fired well over the bar with a powerful effort, as the home side looked for a goal that would have made the visitors slightly nervous.
However, the home side failed to get the third and after a poor second half, the Gunners recorded maximum points for a second successive Europa League game.
Who was Arsenal’s man of the match against BATE Borisov?