Arsenal qualified for the Europa League semi-final stage in Moscow on Thursday night, despite a spirited effort from CSKA to stage a daring and dramatic comeback in their Europa League 2nd leg quarter-final.
CSKA tried their best to recreate the breathtaking drama of Roma’s comeback from 4-1 down versus Catalan giants Barcelona by heroically battling to overturn the same scoreline suffered in London last week.
The first 20 minutes passed without any real threat from either side, as the game failed to catch fire. Arsenal knocked the ball around well, seemingly content to sit back on their three-goal advantage.
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However, the tempo changed after 39 minutes, when Petr Cech could only parry a header from Kirill Nababkin into the path of the onrushing Fedor Chalov, who squeezed the ball home into the far corner. First blood CSKA.
The home side entered the break, buoyed by the confidence of having pulled a goal back, and came out in the second half intent on building on their lead.
They did just that five minutes after the restart when Kirill Nababkin made it 2-0 to put Arsenal hearts in mouths, not least those of the 100 or so to have traveled from London, perched in the high corner of VEB Arena.
Just before the hour mark, Mohamed Elneny rose to smartly head home a cross from Bellerin. It seemed as though the Egyptian had allayed Arsenal fears, but he was adjudged offside by the linesman and CSKA breathed a sigh of relief.
However, a hammer blow came after 75 minutes, when Danny Welbeck pulled one back for the Gunners. His goal meant CSKA needed a further two goals to force extra time. Arsenal could have drawn level through substitute Alex Iwobi, but the Nigerian screwed his shot wide in the closing minutes.
In added time, Arsenal did equalize. Aaron Ramsey was set clear through on goal in added time with CSKA defensive heads turned towards the linesman, but a flag for offside never came and the Welshman made no mistake in chipping over Igor Akinfeev to cruelly snatch victory on the night for CSKA and make it 3-6 on aggregate.