Danny Welbeck rescues Arsenal on nervy night in Moscow

Europa League, VEB Arena: CSKA Moscow 2 (Chalov 39, Nababkin 50) Arsenal 2 (Welbeck 75, Ramsey 92) – Arsenal progress 6-3 on aggregate

Danny Welbeck scored a sublime second-half goal to rescue Arsenal on a nervy Europa League night against CSKA Moscow as Arsene Wenger’s side ran out 6-3 winners on aggregate after a 2-2 draw on the night.
The Gunners already had one foot in the semi-final after last week’s 4-1 first-leg victory, but the hosts – buoyed by the raucous 30,000 home supporters at the VEB Arena – netted a 39th-minute goal through Fedor Chalov after poor defending by Shkodran Mustafi and suddenly Viktor Goncharenko’s side began to believe.
With their tails up Kristijan Bistrovich went close to a quick-fire second while the Russians also had an appeal for handball waved away when Aaron Ramsey blocked a cross inside the penalty area.
The pressure only grew on Arsenal and five minutes into the second-period CSKA Moscow grabbed their second of the evening arrived as Karill Nababkin finished from a tight angle after suspect goalkeeping from Petr Cech.
CSKA Moscow's Russian striker Fedor Chalov (2nd R) scores past Arsenal's Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech during the UEFA Europa League second leg quarter-final football match between CSKA Moscow and Arsenal at VEB Arena stadium in Moscow on April 12, 2018
CSKA Moscow's Russian striker Fedor Chalov (2nd R) scores past Arsenal's Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech during the UEFA Europa League second leg quarter-final football match between CSKA Moscow and Arsenal at VEB Arena stadium in Moscow on April 12, 2018Getty Images
In a week of drama in European football, the hosts almost restored parity when Sergi Ignashevichrifled an excellent half-volley inches wide of Cech’s post.
Arsenal were on the rack but then Welbeck created a moment of magic, just when under-pressure Wenger needed it most. The England international spun away from his marker on the flank before exchanging passes with Mohamed Elneny and finishing with aplomb to give the visitors some breathing space with only 15 minutes remaining.
Needing two more goals to send the tie into extra-time, the Russians committed more players forward and were caught on the counter-attack, Elneny slipping through Ramsey who confirmed Arsenal’s place in the semi-final of a European competition for the first time in nine years with his 10th goal of the season in stoppage time.

TALKING POINT - Relief for Arsenal on a difficult night

In light of this week’s events - with Roma producing one of the greatest comebacks in European history and Juventus threatening to pull off a similar shock at Real Madrid - it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Arsenal made hard work of this tie, especially given their recent track record. With more than half-an-hour to play, it looked increasingly likely the hosts would score a third. But credit to Arsenal, they rolled their sleeves up under immense pressure to get the job done, with Welbeck deservedly stealing the headlines.
Arsenal are now a step closer to the final in Lyon and will find out their semi-final opponents on Friday, though Wenger knows his side must improve to have any chance of capturing Europe’s second-tier trophy and claim a place in next season's Champions League.

MAN OF THE MATCH - Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)

The 27-year-old is in the form of his career, right at the business end of the season. Welbeck is thriving on the channel, where he is finding great joy of late: he has been involved in four of Arsenal's last five goals and his impressive displays must be giving England manager Gareth Southgate food for thought. Can he produce a similar impact when the World Cup arrives in Russia?

PLAYER RATINGS

CSKA Moscow: Akinfeev 6, A. Berezutski 6, Ignashevich 6, V. Berezutski 6, Nababkin 7, Bistrovich 7, Kuchaev 6, Dzagoev 6, Golovin 7, Musa 6, Chalov 7. Subs: Milanov 5, Vitinho 6, Natcho 5.
Arsenal: Cech 5, Bellerin 6, Monreal 6, Mustafi 5, Koscielny 6, Elneny 8, Wilshere 5, Ramsey 7, Welbeck 8, Ozil 7, Lacazette 5. Subs: Chambers 6, Iwobi 6.

KEY MOMENTS

39’ - GOAL! CSKA Moscow 1-0 Arsenal: Is the comeback on? Fedor Chalov breaks the deadlock and CSKA Moscow are ahead on the night! Kuchaev delivers a great cross, Monreal is beaten in the air by Nababkin whose header is parried by Cech into the path of Chalov and he is perfectly positioned to tap the ball into the net.
40'+3 - PENALTY APPEAL! It's wave after wave of attack from the hosts right now. Musa's cross is cleared by Mustafi, but CSKA work the ball to the opposite channel and again the danger is hacked away. Then half-hearted appeals for a handball as Musa's cross is blocked by Ramsey inside the box.
50’ – GOAL! CSKA Moscow 2-0 Arsenal: Now it really is game on! Cech should do better with Golovin's shot from 30 yards. He can only parry it into the feet of Nababkin who finishes from an acute angle. Monreal doesn't react quick enough. CSKA Moscow only need one more goal!
71’ - SO CLOSE! Elneny slices his clearance and Ozil is beaten to the ball all too easily by Iganshevich. It sits up perfectly for the CSKA defender to have a shot and he accepts the invitation, rifling a low and powerful effort just wide. It was inches, and I mean inches from sneaking in Cech's bottom corner.
75' - GOAL! CSKA Moscow 2-1 Arsenal: An Arsenal goal, when they needed it most! It's marvellous work from Welbeck who skips effortlessly from his marker on the channel, before exchanging passes with Elneny and finishing coolly, tucking the ball into the bottom corner.
90'+2 - GOAL! CSKA Moscow 2-2 Arsenal: Ramsey, with his 10th goal of the season and his fourth of the Europa League, confirms Arsenal's place in the semi-final, as he slots home after being released by Elneny's excellent pass.

KEY STATS

  • Arsenal are the fifth English team to reach the semi-finals of the Europa League, after Fulham (2009/10), Liverpool (2009/10 and 2015/16), Chelsea (2012/13) and Man Utd (2016/17).
  • The Gunners reached their first European semi-final since 2008/09, when they faced Manchester United in the Champions League after eliminating Villarreal in the quarter-final.
  • English teams are unbeaten in nine European trips to Moscow (W5 D4) since Aston Villa lost 2-0 to CSKA in the UEFA Cup in February 2009.
  • Danny Welbeck has reached double figures for goals in all competitions for the third time in his career (also 2011-12 and 2013-14).