Arsenal beat Olympiacos with two late goals to hold first leg advantage
|Martin Odegaard celebrates after scoring his first Arsenal goal against Olympiakos on Thursday night. (Photo credit: Getty Images)|
Arsenal survived their own self-destruct button to beat Olympiakos in Athens on Thursday night to plant one foot in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
Mikel Arteta named just two changes with Hector Bellerin and Gabriel Meghaeles coming in for Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari.
But the opening exchanges saw cagey affairs and lots of respect for each other although Pierre Emerick Aubameyang should have handed the visitors the lead inside the ten minutes.
The first goal didn’t come until the 34th minute when Real Madrid loanee, Martin Odegaard fired in a scorcher from 30 yards out and it swirled in of an Olympiakos defender.
It was Arsenal’s fifth shot on target following some dead balls from David Luiz and Willian.
The half wore on with Arsenal looking like doubling their advantage but as we’ve come to know it with the Gunners.
The two teams were level just before the hour mark as substitute Dani Ceballos who came on for Thomas Partey gifted the ball to Youssef El Arabi and the Olympiakos forward made no mistake.
It was the second game back to back that Arsenal would hand a goal to the opposition through an unforced error and the Greek side could have gone ahead not long after but El Arabi fired wide from close range after a neat exchange in the Arsenal area.
Arsenal took the lead again late on when Gabriel rose the highest to head Arsenal in front from a Willian corner, it was the Brazilian’s third goal of the season, interestingly all assisted by fellow Brazilian Willian.
Mikel Arteta sent on Elneny and the Egyptian didn’t take long before putting the game to bed with another long-range effort, it was a vindication for the manager’s selection with a section of the fan wondering why Gabriel Martinelli wasn’t picked.
A delighted Odegaard said after the game "I have felt at home since the first day, I am happy to be here and feel great," the 22-year old midfielder, who joined Arsenal in January, said.