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Slavia Prague 0-4 Arsenal (1-5 on agg): Gunners reach Europa League semi-finals

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Alexandre Lacazette celebrates goalAlexandre Lacazette has scored 18 goals in the knockout stages of the Europa League

Arsenal secured what manager Mikel Arteta called an "important win in a crucial moment" as they impressively swept aside Slavia Prague to reach the Europa League semi-finals.

The Gunners produced one of their best performances of the campaign to turn a potentially difficult night into a fine away victory.

With the tie evenly poised at 1-1, they scored three goals in the opening 24 minutes and had another ruled out by the video assistant referee – all-but ending the contest in the opening period.

It kept alive their hopes winning the competition – and with it their only realistic chance of European football next season.

"The boys were really at it from the start," Arteta said. "We won in a convincing way, so credit to the players."

Nicolas Pepe squeezed home at the near post to open the scoring in the 18th minute before Alexandre Lacazette converted a penalty three minutes later following a foul on Bukayo Saka.

Saka coolly swept in the third as Arsenal tore their Czech opponents apart once more.

Arteta's side controlled the game expertly thereafter and Lacazette smashed his second low into the net in the latter stages.

The Gunners will face Villarreal – managed by former Arsenal boss Unai Emery – in the last four.

Manchester United meet Roma in the other semi-final after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side comfortably saw off Granada.

Reaction to Arsenal's victory over Slavia PragueListen to the latest Football Daily podcast

Rampant Arsenal keep season going

This was Arsenal's biggest game remaining this season.

Had they lost, their campaign would have effectively been over. Instead they breathed life into its final two months.

Their wastefulness in the first leg left the tie in the balance but in Prague, where their hosts had not lost for more than a year, they were supremely clinical.

Lacazette takes the kneeArsenal's two-goal scorer Lacazette stared directly at the Slavia Prague's players while taking the knee before kick-off. The Slavia players stood while the visiting side made the anti-racism gesture

Spurred on by the guile and energy of Emile Smith Rowe, they scored three goals from five first-half shots – doing so without their captain Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, who revealed shortly before kick-off he has contracted malaria.

Slavia had already knocked Leicester and Rangers out of this year's competition but at half-time they resorted to substituting four key players, seemingly an acceptance the tie was over.

It is 25 years since Arsenal, currently ninth in the league, failed to qualify for Europe and this win ensured they can extend that run.

A meeting with Emery, who took Arsenal to the Europa League final in 2019 and won the tournament three times as manager of Sevilla, awaits on 29 April.

"It will be really tough and Unai Emery is probably the most successful manager in this competition," Arteta told BT Sport .

"We started really well and were aggressive in our high press.

"We looked a threat all the time. I really like the reaction of the team to the goal being disallowed."

Arsenal's best performance of the season?

It is little surprise that this performance came with Smith Rowe and Saka – the two shining lights of Arsenal's inconsistent season – reunited in the attacking line.

Smith Rowe, a doubt for the game with an ankle injury that kept him out of the weekend's win over Sheffield United, had put Arsenal ahead in the 14th minute when he turned in the rebound after Saka's rasping shot was turned on to the post but he was narrowly judged to be offside.

It was the 20-year-old playmaker, however, who showed delightful feet to tee up Pepe for the opener moments later.

He then played in Saka whose driving run was unfairly halted by the sliding Jakub Hromada, resulting in the second goal from the penalty spot.

Why Saka could be a future Arsenal captain

Saka took the spotlight soon after, driving off his flank once more and finding the bottom corner while Lacazette was clinical with his spot-kick and assured second-half finish.

Pepe, too, a player often criticised during his time at Arsenal, impressed on the left. He now has five goals and four assists in this year's competition.

It will also please Arteta how Arsenal managed the game with a defensive solidity not seen at times this season.

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"It was fantastic from start to finish," Saka told BT Sport.

"It shows everyone how exciting we can be, when we play like this it is so amazing to be involved in."

Lacazette loving the Europa League – the best stats

Arsenal have reached the semi-finals of European competition for the 10th time (including Fairs Cup), with the Gunners getting to the last four in three of their four Europa League campaigns.Slavia Prague suffered their first home defeat in their last seven European games (W3 D3), conceding more goals in this game (4) than in the previous six on home soil (3).Arsenal have scored 3+ goals in four consecutive away games in all competitions for the first time since December 1932 (5 games).Arsenal kept a clean sheet in a European game for the first time in eight games, since a 3-0 away win over Molde in the Europa League in November 2020.Nicolas Pepe has been directly involved in nine goals in his 10 starts for Arsenal in the Europa League (4 goals, 5 assists).Emile Smith Rowe registered his seventh assist in all competitions this season, the joint-most of any Arsenal player in 2020-21 (level with Willian).Only Radamel Falcao (20) and Kevin Gameiro (19) have scored more Europa League knockout stage goals than Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette (18). Alexandre Lacazette has scored 2+ goals in consecutive games in all competitions for the first time for any club since his last three appearances for Lyon in May 2017.With four goals to his name, Bukayo Saka is now Arsenal's joint-top teenage scorer in major European competition, level with Charlie George and Ray Kennedy.

What's next?

Arsenal return to Premier League action on Sunday against Fulham at Emirates Stadium (13:30 BST kick-off).

Player of the match

SakaBukayo Saka

with an average of 8.54Slavia PragueSlavia PragueSlavia PragueArsenalArsenalArsenal

Slavia Prague

    Squad number1Player nameKolarAverage rating

    4.05

    Squad number5Player nameBahAverage rating

    3.74

    Squad number3Player nameHolesAverage rating

    3.65

    Squad number9Player nameOladeji OlayinkaAverage rating

    3.64

    Squad number16Player nameKuchtaAverage rating

    3.53

    Squad number7Player nameStanciuAverage rating

    3.53

    Squad number6Player nameZimaAverage rating

    3.51

    Squad number23Player nameSevcikAverage rating

    3.50

    Squad number18Player nameBorilAverage rating

    3.48

    Squad number17Player nameProvodAverage rating

    3.45

    Squad number25Player nameHromadaAverage rating

    3.43

    Squad number41Player nameVišinskýAverage rating

    3.28

    Squad number19Player nameDorleyAverage rating

    3.14

    Squad number28Player nameMasopustAverage rating

    3.13

    Squad number32Player nameLingrAverage rating

    3.05

    Squad number11Player nameTeclAverage rating

    2.93

Arsenal

    Squad number7Player nameSakaAverage rating

    8.54

    Squad number32Player nameSmith RoweAverage rating

    8.43

    Squad number9Player nameLacazetteAverage rating

    8.19

    Squad number19Player namePépéAverage rating

    8.15

    Squad number35Player nameGabriel MartinelliAverage rating

    7.60

    Squad number21Player nameChambersAverage rating

    7.59

    Squad number18Player nameParteyAverage rating

    7.57

    Squad number16Player nameHoldingAverage rating

    7.46

    Squad number34Player nameXhakaAverage rating

    7.45

    Squad number8Player nameDani CeballosAverage rating

    7.38

    Squad number22Player nameMaríAverage rating

    7.35

    Squad number38Player nameBalogunAverage rating

    7.19

    Squad number17Player nameCédric SoaresAverage rating

    7.19

    Squad number1Player nameLenoAverage rating

    7.05

    Squad number25Player nameMohamed ElnenyAverage rating

    7.05

    Squad number30Player nameNketiahAverage rating

    6.85

Line-upsMatch StatsLive Text

Line-ups

Slavia Prague

Formation 4-1-2-1-2

1Kolar5Bah3Holes6Zima18Boril25Hromada23Sevcik17Provod7Stanciu9Oladeji Olayinka16Kuchta1Kolar5BahSubstituted forVišinskýat 45'minutes3Holes6Zima18BorilSubstituted forDorleyat 45'minutes25HromadaBooked at 20minsSubstituted forMasopustat 45'minutes23Sevcik17Provod7StanciuSubstituted forLingrat 45'minutes9Oladeji OlayinkaBooked at 63mins16KuchtaSubstituted forTeclat 71'minutes

Substitutes

11Tecl12Sima13Stejskal19Dorley27Traore28Masopust31Kovar32Lingr41Višinský

Arsenal

Formation 4-2-3-1

1Leno21Chambers16Holding22Marí34Xhaka18Partey8Ceballos7Saka32Smith Rowe19Pépé9Lacazette1Leno21Chambers16Holding22Marí34Xhaka18ParteySubstituted forCédric Soaresat 79'minutes8Ceballos7SakaSubstituted forMartinelliat 79'minutesBooked at 82mins32Smith RoweSubstituted forElnenyat 67'minutes19PépéSubstituted forBalogunat 88'minutes9LacazetteSubstituted forNketiahat 79'minutes

Substitutes

2Bellerín6Gabriel12Willian17Cédric Soares24Nelson25Elneny30Nketiah33Ryan35Martinelli38Balogun45Hillson66AzeezReferee:Cüneyt Çakir

Match Stats

Home TeamSlavia PragueAway TeamArsenalPossessionHome61%Away39%ShotsHome7Away7Shots on TargetHome0Away5CornersHome3Away5FoulsHome9Away14

Live Text

    Post update

    Match ends, Slavia Prague 0, Arsenal 4.

    Source

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