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World Cup 2018

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Home Sport Football European

Ozil dazzles as Gunners flex muscles in CSKA Moscow clash

Arsenal 4-1 CSKA

By Mark Mann-Bryans

Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette each scored twice as Mesut Ozil put on a Europa League masterclass to overwhelm CSKA Moscow and all but book Arsenal's place in the semi-finals.

Arsene Wenger knows winning this competition is the only realistic way his side can get back into the Champions League as they sit 13 points adrift of the Premier League's top four.

His side showed far too much for their Russian visitors with first-half braces for Ramsey and Lacazette sealing a comfortable 4-1 win ahead of the return leg.

Reported Arsenal target Aleksandr Golovin had equalised with a stunning free-kick but Viktor Goncharenko's side were guilty of spurning several other decent chances.

Lacazette said: "It was a good game. Even though we conceded, I am happy. I am back, so everything is good. I wanted a hat-trick like Aaron, but it's fine."

Asked if the tie was over, he replied: "Job done for today, but we also have an important game on Sunday that we need to focus on, before we think about the second leg."

Early on, Ozil exchanged passes with Ramsey before the Wales international tucked home - only for the flag to be raised against Ozil earlier in the move.

But Moscow were soon breached, Ramsey slotting home from Hector Bellerin's low cross at the end of a slick move.

Moscow equalised just six minutes later, Golovin curling home a perfect free-kick after he was fouled by Laurent Koscielny.

Arsenal regained their composure and were soon back in front as Ozil was tripped in the penalty area by Georgi Schennikov.

Lacazette marked his first start since January by scoring the resulting penalty before Ramsey increased the lead with a moment of brilliance - deftly lifting Ozil's perfectly-weighted pass over Igor Akinfeev.

The fit-again Lacazette added his own second effort of the night with a well-taken finish.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan should have added a fifth shortly after the restart but fluffed his lines after another wonderful pass from Ozil.

The Armenia international limped out of the contest to be replaced by Alex Iwobi in a rare sour moment for Wenger.

CSKA were wasteful and had a goal chalked out for offside as Alan Dzagoev headed in after Petr Cech blocked Pontus Wernbloom's shot.

Lacazette then passed up his hat-trick opportunity as he skewed wide from just a couple of yards out having been picked out by Iwobi, his last chance to earn the match ball before he was replaced by Danny Welbeck.

Ramsey hit the post as he too could not earn a memorable hat-trick before Akinfeev did well to keep out Welbeck's effort.

The game came to a close with Arsenal holding a strong lead heading to Moscow but with both sides thinking they should have scored more.

Belfast Telegraph

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