Arsenal trounced CSKA Moscow 4-1 at the Emirates Stadium to all but seal qualification into the semi finals of the Europa League.
Arsene Wenger benched Nigeria’s Alex Iwobi, and started both Jack Wilshere and Alexander Lacazette, while Ahmed Musa started on the wing for CSKA.
Arsenal flew out of blocks and had a goal ruled out for offside on seven minutes but Ramsey would not be denied two minutes later. Mesut Ozil found an overlapping Hector Bellerin on the right and his low cross was converted by the Welshman to give the North Londoners a 1-0 lead.
CSKA responded well, testing Cech and equalized on fifteen minutes through a magnificent free kick.
Aleksandr Golovin produced a curler from just outside the box which flew into the top corner, leaving Cech stranded for a deserved equalizer.
Nigerian winger, Ahmed Musa, who has been rejuvenated since his return to the Moscow club in January, almost gave the Russians a deserved lead but he could only shoot into the side netting after leaving Bellerin for dead.
Arsene Wenger’s boys ran riot thereafter, Alexandre Lacazette converting a penalty after Ozil was brought down in the box.
Ramsey scored his second, and Arsenal’s third with a stupendous back-heeled goal. The 27-year old met Ozil’s ball over the top by leaping into the air and lobbing the keeper, Igor Akinfeev, using his back heel and with his back to goal.
Ahmed Musa was running a one man show for the Russian but this was not enough as his teammates were performing woefully, and Arsenal capitalized for their fourth goal. Frenchman Lacazatte controlled Ozil’s cross and converted from 18 yards and Arsenal ended the half 4-1 up.
Iwobi was introduced on 63 minutes but Arsenal did not add to their first half lead, and the Russians also had a goal correctly ruled out for offside as Arsenal ran out comfortable winners going into the second leg.
In Spain, Europa League favourites, Atletico Madrid, defeated Sporting Lisbon 2-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano and take a commanding lead into the second leg in Portugal.
The Spanish capital side took the lead in less than 30 seconds when Diego Costa won the ball after shocking defensive display by Sporting, and the former Chelsea striker set up Koke to smash home for the lead. The second goal arrived before halftime from Antoine Griezmann.
The sought-after French striker capitalised on another blunder at the back from former Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu to convert one-on-one with the keeper.
Lazio defeated Austrian surprise package, Red Bull Salzburg 4-2 at the Stadio Olimpico. Senad Lulic got Lazio off to a flying start, applying the finishing touch to a wonderful team move which started from the goalkeeper. However, the Austrian Champions equalized from the penalty spot, Valon Berisha converting straight down the middle to give his team a precious away goal.
Marco Parolo restored Lazio’s lead in the second half with a deft finish from another team goal for the Italian team’s 300th goal in European competitions. Salzburg, again, equalized but Felipe Anderson scored a wonderful solo goal while Ciro Immobile made it 4-2 with his 37th goal of the season.
In Germany, RB Leipzig defeated Olympic Marseille 1-0 with goal from Timo Werner from a swift counter attack.
ARSENAL 4-1 CSKA MOSCOW
ATLÉTICO MADRID 2-0 SPORTING LISBON
LAZIO 4-2 RED BULL SALZBURG
RB LEIPZIG 1-0 OLYMPIC MARSEILLE