Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta expressed his satisfaction with the performance of his players during the 4-0 thrashing of hosts Sparta Prague in the second leg of their round of eight tie in the Europa League. Arteta and his players needed to win to have a chance of going through to the semis of the competition after the first leg ended in a 1-1 draw.
The Gunners were wasteful in the first leg at the Emirates Stadium last week Thursday with Frenchman Alexandre Lacazette the big culprit. He missed some gilt-edged opportunities before Ivorian player Nicholas Pepe gave the hosts the lead at the expense of the Czech Republic guests in the last five minutes of the encounter. However, Mikel Arteta and his players could not hold on with Sparta Prague defender Tomas Doles getting the all-important equaliser.
The Gunners could have gone out of the Europa League it they didn’t beat their hosts or drew with at least two goals. They had no such problems after they delivered an emphatic response to the disappointment from the first leg.
Arsenal had the ball in the net through young midfielder Emile Smith-Rowe but was ruled out due to a tight offside call. The Gunners were not to be denied with Nicholas Pepe getting the opener to add to his goal against the same opposition in the first leg. Smith-Rowe provided the assist for him to score.
Alexandre Lacazette added a second goal from the penalty spot before Nigerian-born England international Bukayo Saka scored a third goal to make it an impressive first half performance for the Gunners. Mikel Arteta and his players led 3-0 at the break to put one foot into the next round.
Lacazette added a fourth goal with 13 minutes left on the clock to make it a more comprehensive beating for their hosts. Arsenal won 4-0 in the second leg to make it 5-1 on aggregate.
In his post-match press conference, Arteta praised the quality shown by his players to get the job done.
Arsenal were able to match a record almost eight decades by netting at least three goals in the last four away games in all competitions. The achieved the feat for the first time in 79 years (since 1932).