Arsenal 3 BATE Borisov 0 (3-1 on agg)
Volkov 4 og, Mustafi 39, Sokratis, 60

Arsenal eased into the Europa League last 16 with a comfortable win over Belarus champions BATE Borisov. Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, the Gunners took the lead on th the night after just four minutes in which they had as many chances on their opponents goal. When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sped past his marker, his low cross was deflected past his own keeper by Zakhar Volkov for Arsenal to finally register in this tie. They doubled their lead on the night when Shkodran Mustafi powered in a header six minutes from the break. Substitute Sokrtais who Unai Emery later explained was introduced as a precaution after Laurent Koscielny felt an ankle niggle, headed in Arsenal’s third and that seemed to knock the wind out of the Borisov sails. The visitors did have chances, the best falling to Stanislav Dragun with the score at 1-0. Stephan Lichsteiner was on the goal line to make the clearance.

Arsenal dominated throughout, and their intricate play and pass moves from deep merited more goals. The early frustration and that from the first leg when possession didn’t equate to goals was evident amongst the largely occupied Emirates stadium crowd who managed to get to the ground despite the early 17:55 UK local time kick off. Amongst them were a small but spirited group of Borisov fans who having witnessed their team win the first leg, sensed another upset.

Emery named his strongest available line up and that meant a return for Mesut Ozil. His creative touches were sorely missed in the first leg, and judging by the applause he got when taking a corner, the German has been sorely missed by the fans too. Ozil, Matteo Guendouzi, and Aubameyang were the spine of the side with Iwobi and Mkhitaryan on the wings. The positions were all interchangeable and when Guendouzi’s perfectly weighted ball found Aubameyang on the right wing, the Gabon striker proved to be too quick for his marker. His cross hit Volkov before flying past Denis Scherbitski for the game’s opener.

Iwobi was constant thorn in the Borisov defence, and he, Ozil, Aubameyang had chances to increase the lead. Just before half time, Mustafi powered in his header from Granit Xhaka’s corner and Arsenal led for the first time on the night and over the two legs.

Technically adroit and quick in moving the ball, Borisov passed with confidence. Had Dragun’s effort gone in with the score then at 1-0, Arsenal would have had an altogether different proposition to face. Petr Cech was largely a spectator on the night, but Maxim Skavysh caused a moment of concern, his effort hit the side netting. Iwobi, Ozil and a pile driver from Xhaka all tested Scherbitski.

Four minutes after coming on, Sokratis headed in Arsenal’s third of the night. Before that, Alex Hleb was given a rousing reception on his return to N5 on the hour mark. But Arsenal had grabbed a two goal cushion over the two legs from another Xhaka corner which Scherbitski missed, but Sokrtais headed in for a 3-0 scoreline on the night.

Job done, and Arsenal will now look for more of the same when Southampton come calling on Sunday.