After digging themselves a hole in the first leg, Arsenal righted the ship and beat BATE Borisov 3-0 (3-1 aggregate) to advance to the Europa League round of 16.
Arsenal should get credit for generating some offense, but it was BATE who put them on the board first. Zakhar Volkov mishandled a cross from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the worst way, chipping it past his own keeper for an own goal.
With ten minutes gone, the Gunners could have had three on the board—Alex Iwobi had a few chances but couldn’t capitalize—and BATE could have had a couple, as well. Twice in the span of a few minutes Arsenal didn’t keep pace with BATE’s attack, and the second time only a goal line intervention from Stephan Lichtsteiner kept the Belarusian team from scoring.
Arsenal spent a good majority of the opening minutes in BATE’s half of the pitch, but they could only find half chances. Shots were off target or hit into BATE defenders, and BATE keeper Denis Shcherbitski made a full-stretch save when faced with one of Granit Xhaka’s rocket shots.
By the end of the half the game had become a stalemate, with neither team able to score, and both either unable or unwilling to adjust. In their defense, Arsenal probably would have added to the score with a bit more luck, with a slightly more favorable angle on one of their chances.
And with five minutes to go, they got a better chance and took it. Xhaka took the corner, lofting the ball toward BATE’s goal in a departure from their short corner strategy, and Shkodran Mustafi headed it past Shcherbitski. Arsenal took a 2-0 lead into half time—enough to advance as things stood, but their job was only half finished.
Arsenal got on the throttle again to start the second half, with Matteo Guendouzi getting his turn to bend a shot just a bit too far sideways. But BATE weren’t about to give up, and Petr Cech had to stop a shot just a few minutes in.
Laurent Koscielny left the game with thirty-five minutes to go, seemingly with some sort of injury. That’s about the last thing that Arsenal need, but at least Sokratis is healthy again and available to cover for Kos, should it be anything serious.
Sokratis, for his part, found himself in BATE’s box for a corner just a few minutes after coming on, and headed the ball home for Arsenal’s third goal. It was a fine header, but Sokratis also had some help from Shcherbitski, who kind of ruined his otherwise good night.
Arsenal backed off a bit with three on the board, but not enough to let BATE threaten them seriously. Aubameyang shot straight at the keeper on a free kick and had a painful missed chip shot, and no one else could find their way through the tangle of BATE defenders. By the end of regular time, everyone looked pretty gassed.
The game ended quietly, with just two minutes of extra time, and only a bit of jawing between BATE and Xhaka to liven things up.
In their stereotypical nerve-wracking fashion (yet somehow keeping a clean sheet), Arsenal are off to the next round. They will find out who their opponents are at the draw tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Gunners’ next match is this Sunday against Southampton.