Arsenal overcame a spirited Ostersund aspect and a biting winter chill to plant one foot firmly within the final 16 of the Europa League. There was to be no romantic triumph for Graham Potter, the host’s inspirational supervisor, whose aspect conceded two away objectives earlier than discovering their toes, finally dropping this primary leg Three-Zero. Next week’s journey to the Emirates is prone to be a studying expertise and little extra.
But the rating didn’t painting a match which Ostersund managed for big chunks, harrying the Gunners in possession and creating a number of sights of purpose. For all of the world-class expertise Arsene Wenger let unfastened on the Jamtkraft Arena’s astroturf, it was in purpose the place the distinction was made.
David Ospina, Arsenal’s captain for the evening, made a number of vital saves together with a late penalty, whereas his counterpart Aly Keita introduced Nacho Monreal with the opener and may have saved out the third from Mesut Ozil.
Nacho Monreal opened the scoring (Getty)
It was the largest evening in Ostersund’s historical past and the 9,000 capability house crowd had been decided to not let the end result spoil the social gathering, treating their esteemed friends to relentless drum-beating and chants in temperatures round a numbing -7C.
Arsene Wenger confirmed his intent as he named a powerful beginning XI, with Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi flitting behind Danny Welbeck, who led the road within the absence of the injured Alexandre Lacazette and ineligible Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and so they rapidly took possession of the ball, pinning their hosts again.
Ostersund soaked up waves of early stress, so Potter should have been annoyed when that work was undone so carelessly within the 13th minute. First, Keita handed over possession cheaply from a goal-kick, and though Mkhitaryan’s shot was brilliantly blocked to disclaim a sure purpose, Arsenal got one other present from the ensuing nook when Keita spilled Iwobi’s skimmer, permitting Monreal to faucet in from a few yards.
Mesut Ozil added the third (Getty)
Just a little greater than 10 minutes later and Arsenal’s early dominance paid dividends once more when Hector Bellerin’s cross was half minimize out by Tom Pettersson, solely to be regained by the energetic Mkhitaryan who drove the ball throughout the six-yard field. Welbeck was lurking on the again publish but it surely by no means reached him, turned in by the centre-half Sotirios Papagiannopoulos as he tried to intercept.
But the second purpose appeared to settle Ostersund’s gamers to their job, as in the event that they now not had something to lose. They began to point out a number of the fluency and self-confidence which had seen them knockout Galatasaray and Hertha Berlin earlier within the competitors. The recreation completely modified and the probabilities flowed. The ahead Salisu Gero miscued a close-range header, Saman Ghoddos flashed a volley which wanted tipping over the crossbar, earlier than he robbed Ainsley Maitland-Niles in midfield and noticed one other well-hit strike saved by Ospina.
Potter’s talents to have an effect on a recreation at half-time are nicely famend, and he made a double change on the break, bringing on Gent loanee Tesfaldet Tekie and English midfielder Jamie Hopcutt. His aspect rapidly picked up the place they left off, urgent excessive and probing across the Arsenal field, however shortly earlier than the hour mark Ostersund suffered a passage of play which extinguished their faint hopes.
The Spanish referee David Borbalan turned down a reputable penalty declare when Shkodran Mustafi bundled into Tekie, ignoring the Jamtkraft Arena’s roar, and from the counter-attack which adopted, Mkhitaryan picked out Ozil whose underwhelming shot trickled by means of the worryingly porous Keita.
In the ultimate throes, Bellerin conceded a penalty with a visit within the field. But there was Ospina once more, diving to his proper to save lots of Pettersson’s penalty and deny Ostersund the purpose their efficiency deserved.