And for the first time in nine years, Arsenal are in an European semi-final. After seeing off CSKA Moscow 4-1 in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final, the Gunners were expected to coast through to a last four place. But they have an underwhelming record away to Russian teams, and in a week of incredible fightbacks, anything looked possible.
CSKA were on the front foot, and took the lead towards the end of the first half, Fyodor Chatov tucking home after Petr Cech could only push out Vitinho’s header. And less than 10 minutes into the second period, the hosts started to believe in a comeback, and from an Aleksandr Golovin shot, Cech could only punch out once more, and Kirill Nababkin followed up to put Victor Goncharenko’s team two up on the night, and a goal away from qualification.
CSKA remained on the ascendancy. Golovin however saw his free-kick parried away by Cech, while Sergei Ignashevich fired a shot narrowly wide. There was trouble trouble to come when with less than a quarter of an hour to go, Danny Welbeck following a neat exchange with Mohammed Elneny, slotted home to give Arsenal breathing space in the tie.
The win was sealed in stoppage time with Aaron Ramsey bursting forward to dink one over Igor Akinfeev and make it 2-2 on the night. A 6-3 aggregate win in the end for the Gunners, who advance to an European last four for the first time since they were beaten in the Champions League semis by Manchester United in 2009.
They will be joined in the semis by Red Bull Salzburg, who saw off Lazio in Austria. Trailing 4-2 from the first leg, Salzburg conceded 10 minutes into the second half to have them needing to score three times to go through, but a 20-minute period saw them bag four goals, and edge into Friday’s draw ahead of the Italians.
Elsewhere, Sporting Lisbon could only halve the deficit against Atletico Madrid, who progressed 2-1 on aggregate, while Marseille rallied to a 5-2 win over Red Bull Leipzig, to bag a 5-3 aggregate victory.
CSKA Moscow 2-2 Arsenal
Marseille 5-2 Red Bull Leipzig
Sporting CP 1-0 Atletico Madrid
Red Bull Salzburg 4-1 Lazio