Arsenal cruised past BATE Borisov in the second leg of their Round of 32 tie to advance to the pre-quarterfinals.
The Gunners got off to the best possible start as Zakhar Volkov diverted Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s cross into his own net. The Gunners kept their foot on the pedal and were rewarded for their perseverance in the 39th minute when Shkodran Mustafi rose highest to nod home.
There was no respite for the visitors after the break too. Alex Iwobi forced a smart save out of Denis Shcherbitski while Mesut Ozil fired a volley over the bar.
The Gunners finally put the tie beyond doubt in the 60th minute when a moment of indecision by the BATE keeper allowed Sokratis to head into an empty net.
The 3-0 victory at the Emirates eased a few of Unai Emery’s headaches as the Gunners prepare themselves for a crucial run of games.
Here is a look at the major talking points from the game:
#5 BATE Borisov get a taste of their own set-piece medicine
The first leg was characterized by an Arsenal side struggling to cope with the conditions and a BATE side mercilessly exploiting their visitors’ aerial frailties. However, a week later, the roles were reversed as the Gunners ended up scoring from two set-plays of their own.
The hosts’ second and third goals came via Granit Xhaka corners and both symbolised the visitors’ inability to deal with Arsenal’s threat from set pieces.
For the second goal, Mustafi was accorded the freedom of the six-yard box as none of the BATE defenders got close enough to impede the German’s attempt.
On the other hand, the third goal arrived courtesy an elementary goalkeeping error. Scherbitski misjudged the flight of the ball and got caught under it. Inevitably, he flapped at the ball only to completely miss it. With the goalkeeper out of play, Sokratis was allowed to opportunity to kill the game off.
A week ago, Arsenal was panned for their overall display with special emphasis on their set-play shortcoming. Yet, in the second leg, the tables turned drastically.