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World Cup 2018

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Home Sport Football European

Arsenal were woeful, admits Wilshere after huge scare

Arsenal 1 Ostersunds 2

By Mark Mann-Bryans

Arsenal survived a major scare to secure their spot in the last-16 of the Europa League despite suffering an embarrassing 2-1 home defeat to Ostersunds.

After building a commanding 3-0 lead in last week's first leg in Sweden, Arsene Wenger's Gunners appeared to be coasting, only for two goals in 70 first-half seconds to send a half-empty Emirates Stadium into panic.

A Calum Chambers own goal and a neat finish from Ken Sema had Graham Potter's side two goals up at half-time - and the hosts were jeered off.

Sead Kolasinac thumped home a response early in the second half to mark his first start since New Year's Eve with a vital goal.

That was as good as it got for a disjointed Arsenal, who now face an altogether different test when they face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final on Sunday.

Midfielder Jack Wilshere said: "We were nowhere near good enough. We are through and that is all that counts. We will see who we get tomorrow and refocus on the big game on Sunday."

Asked if Arsenal underestimated their opponents, he added: "Maybe. When you are 3-0 up in a two-legged game you have to go again. It is only half-time and we maybe underestimated them a little. We were not good enough, we will accept that and move on. We are through, that is probably the only positive."

On the eve of the contest, Potter had said that to progress his team would need the biggest miracle in the history of football, but the visiting fans were dreaming of just that as they rattled Arsenal in the early stages.

They were rewarded for a positive start when Chambers deflected Hosam Aiesh's low shot past David Ospina.

If that gave them hope, just a minute later they were given a real possibility when Chambers was out-muscled by Sema before the latter thrashed home.

Arsenal had offered little in attack, Danny Welbeck flicking a header straight at Aly Keita.

Ostersunds were still enjoying the odd venture forward and Saman Ghoddos worked Ospina with a long-range free-kick.

Arsenal reacted immediately after the break, Kolasinac thrashing home after Ronald Mukiibi fluffed his lines trying to clear Hector Bellerin's cross.

Arsenal went in search of parity on the night, with Welbeck heading straight at the keeper.

There were still some unsettling moments as Ostersunds substitute Dino Islamovic turned wide, but Arsenal went through.

ARSENAL WIN 4-2 ON AGGREGATE

ARSENAL: Ospina, Bellerín, Chambers, Holding, Kolasinac, El Neny, Maitland-Niles (Xhaka 45), Mkhitaryan, Wilshere (Willock 76), Iwobi (Nelson 90), Welbeck. Subs not used: Monreal, Mustafi, Macey, Nketiah.

OSTERSUNDS: Keita, Mukiibi (Islamovic 73), Papagiannopoulos, Pettersson, Widgren, Aiesh (Tekie 52), Edwards, Nouri, Sema, Ghoddos, Hopcutt (Arhin 81).

Subs not used: Bergqvist, Gero, Andersson, Mensah.

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Ivan Kruzliak (Slovakia)

 

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