Arsenal survived an unlikely CSKA Moscow comeback to qualify for the semi finals of the Europa League.
The Gunners, looking to win the competition as a back door entry into next season’s UEFA Champions League came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 on the night and advance 6-3 on aggregate.
On a cold Moscow night, Petr Cech race out to clear a through ball which freed Ahmed Musa in the second minute, but the first shot of the night came in the 22nd minute. CSKA, however, raced into a two-goal lead five minutes either side of half time.
Twenty-year old attacker, Fedor Chalov converted on the rebound after Cech’s save came out to him, while a similar sequence of event also led to Kirill Nababkin slamming home the second goal to bring the Russian capital outfit on the brink of another comeback in a week of European comebacks.
The North London club would not be a victim however, as they replied with two goals of their own. Resurgent Danny Welbeck converted a Mohammed Elneny exchange on 72 minutes, while Aaron Ramsey equalized deep into injury time from another fine Elneny through pass to sail the Gunners into to the last four.
In other games on the night, Olympic Marseille turned on a 0-1 first leg defeat on its head, winning 5-2 at the Stade Velodrome to dump visiting RB Leipzig out. Jeffrey Bruma gave the visitors the lead in the second minute of the game, but L’OM ran riot afterwards. An own goal equalised on the night, Bouna Sarr scored the second, while Florian Thauvin’s third put the hosts ahead on aggregate.
Young RB Leipzig striker, Jean-Kevin Augustin, however, scored a second away goal on 55 minutes to give the Germans the edge on away goals rule. Marseille captain and former West Ham favourite, Dimitri Payet, duly restored the French side’s advantage five minutes later, while defender Hiroki Sakai added gloss to the scoreline in injury time.
Bookies’ favourites, Atletico Madrid also lost 1-0 to Sporting Lisbon in Portugal but advanced after winning the first leg 2-0 in Spain. Colombian attacker, Fredy Montero scored the only goal of the game on 28 minutes but the faltering Portuguese side could not breach a solid Atlético defence further.
The surprise result of the night saw Austrian Champions, Red Bull Salzburg, continue their fairytale Europa League story. The Red Bulls produced another Roma-styled comeback, handing a 4-1 hiding to Lazio- Roma’s neighbours- to qualify 6-5 on aggregate after losing the first leg 4-2.
All five goals were scored in the second half of an unbelievable encounter which ensued at the Re Bull Arena in Salzburg. Lazio, struck first in the 55th minute through their highest goalscorer, Ciro Immobile, and this spurred the Austrians into Bull mode instantly- just like the drink made by their sponsors, Red Bull. Israeli striker, Dabour equalized immediately on 56 minutes, and the Austrian League leaders then scored three goals in the space of six minutes from the 72nd minute, each goal coming two minutes apart.
Mali’s Amadou Haidara scored the second goal, Korean striker Hwang Hee-Chan contributed the third, while defender Stefan Lainer headed in the fourth goal to put the Austrians ahead on aggregate. The Austrians then held on for a famous comeback victory which qualified them for their first ever appearance in the semi finals of Europa League.
Olympique Marseille (0) 5-2 (1) RB Leipzig (5-3 aggregate; Marseille advance)
CSKA Moscow (1) 2-2 (4) Arsenal (3-5 aggregate; Arsenal advance)
Sporting Lisbon (0) 1-0 (2) Atlético Madrid (1-2 aggregate; Atlético Madrid advance)
RB Salzburg (2) 4-1 (4) Lazio (6-5 aggregate; Red Bull Salzburg advance)