El Arabi Y. (58′)
Odegaard M. (34′)
Elneny M. (85′)
Ball Possession: 42% – 58%
Goal Attempts: 6- 18
Shots on Goal: 2 – 7
Shots off Goal: 1 – 5
Blocked Shots: 3 – 6
Free Kicks: 6 – 14
Corner Kicks: 1 – 4
Offsides: 1 – 1
Goalkeeper Saves: 4 – 1
Fouls: 13 – 5
Red Cards: 0 – 0
Yellow Cards: 2 – 1
Total Passes: 413 – 576
Tackles: – – –
Attacks: 80 – 129
Dangerous Attacks: 31 – 91
A wonderful first-half strike from Martin Odegaard and 2 second-half goals from Gabriel and Elneny after a horrendous error to goal from Ceballos to give the hosts an equalizer was enough to secure the Gunners a lot needed away victory heading into next week’s second leg at home in the Emirates stadium.
Mikel Arteta paired both Gabriel Magalhaes and David Luiz in center back, while Hector Bellerin returned to the right-back position.
The game was quite entertaining one from kick-off, with both teams throwing it open to each other in an end-to-end affair. Both keepers were kept very busy on the night, but it was the Greek goalkeeper who conceded first from a thunderous distance shot from the on-loan Odegaard to score his first goal for the club. David Luiz almost gifted the home team an equalizer after his insane back pass across goal in the closing stages of the first half was met by Giorgos Masuoras but the attackers’ effort sailed wide off target.
Arsenal’s defensive lapses were seen again after last weekend’s awful mistake by Xhaka to gift Burnley an equalizer but this time, Dani Ceballos was the culprit. The midfielder lost the ball just at the edge of his penalty box after receiving a pass from Leno but his attempted turn was intercepted by El-Arabi, who finished off into the right-hand side of Leno to give the hosts a much-deserved equalizer. From then onwards, it looked likely that the Gunners would crumble but against the run of play, they grabbed a second goal through Gabriel, after the defender jumped highest to meet Willian’s cross from a short corner down the right. Mohammed Elneny would grab the third goal for the Gunners after sending a well-drilled shot from outside into the right side of the Greek goalkeeper to give the Gunners a much-needed victory and a first-leg advantage heading into next week’s second leg tie. Going with the Gunners’ history of qualification in this competition, they might choose to either do it the easy way or the hard way, but with the Gunners, the scripts are never easy.
- Arsenal are still unbeaten in their last four visits to Greece.
- Mohammed Elneny has scored 4 goals for the Gunners, and all of them have come in European competitions.
- Martin Odegaard’s goal was his first for the Gunners and his first in over a year.
- Gabriel’s 3 goals for the Gunners have all been assisted by Willian.
WHAT IS NEXT?
A weekend North- London derby against Tottenham Hotspurs at home is the next on the fixtures list before a return tie against Olympiacos at the Emirates next Thursday.
Match Review by Patrick Alexander