Gunners edge through after huge scare

Arsenal was beaten at home by Ostersunds but a first-leg win was enough to see the Gunners reach the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 on aggregate.


beIN SPORTS MATCH CENTRE: Arsenal 1-2 Ostersunds (Arsenal wins 4-2 on aggregate)

Arsenal survived a huge scare to keep its UEFA Europa League campaign alive, progressing to the Round of 16 with a 4-2 aggregate win over Ostersunds despite a shock 2-1 loss at home.

The Gunners cruised to a 3-0 win in the first leg in Sweden last week but found themselves 2-0 down at half-time of the return fixture at Emirates Stadium.

A strike from Sead Kolasinac early in the second half eased some of the nerves in north London, however, and ensured a place in the draw for the Round of 16.

Ostersunds, which was only founded in October 1996, after Arsene Wenger had been appointed Arsenal manager, was fearless in its approach and sent the visiting fans into raptures when Calum Chambers's own goal and Ken Sema's strike put them 2-0 up in the space of 70 seconds in the first half.

A Gunners team including Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck offered little by way of a response until the second minute of the second half, when Kolasinac lashed home from close range.

Graham Potter's visitors could not find the two goals they needed to complete a shock turnaround, but the performance will have given Wenger plenty to consider ahead of the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City in three days' time.

Arsenal, no doubt with one eye on Monday's (AEDT) showdown at Wembley, made little effort to add to its aggregate lead during the early stages in front of a sparse home crowd.

Ostersunds sensed the hosts' complacency and Hosam Aiesh stunned the Emirates 22 minutes in, latching onto Saman Ghoddos's long ball in behind Kolasinac and firing across David Ospina, with Chambers deflecting the effort into the net.

Before the visiting fans had even finished celebrating, Sema capitalised on more slack defending from Arsenal, leaving Chambers for dead with a clever drag-back before rifling the ball into the bottom-right corner from the left of the penalty area.

Arsenal responded with a spell of possession but offered very little going forward, with a flicked header from Danny Welbeck, which was comfortably held by goalkeeper Aly Keita, the closest they came to a goal back in the first half.

However, 90 seconds after the break, it eased some of the anxiety around the Emirates. Full-back Ronald Mukiibi swiped at Hector Bellerin's cross and missed, allowing Kolasinac to take a touch before smashing the ball into the net from 12 yards out.

Arsenal began to look a little more relaxed, with Mohamed Elneny and Danny Welbeck each denied by good saves from Keita, but Ostersunds looked a threat until the end and the Gunners will have to improve significantly if they are to claim the first major trophy of the English season this weekend.