Martin Odegaard set Arsenal on their way to a commanding first-leg victory over Olympiakos in their Europa League last-16 tie.
The Norwegian opened the scoring with a powerful 20-yard drive, with Gabriel restoring their lead after a defensive error allowed Youssef El Arabi to equalise for the hosts.
An otherwise excellent evening for the Gunners was rounded off by Mohamed Elneny’s superb long-range strike late on.
With three valuable away goals, Mikel Arteta’s side are well placed to avoid a repeat of their dramatic exit to the Greek champions last term.
However, the Spaniard will not be happy with a number of defensive lapses.
Lax play from both David Luiz and Odegaard went without punishment but they were not as fortunate when goalkeeper Bernd Leno played substitute Dani Ceballos into trouble, and their tormentor from last term El Arabi stroked in the equaliser.
Until then they more then merited their lead with Odegaard atoning for an early miss with a strike that bamboozled home goalkeeper Jose Sa.
And in a dominant early display Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was also denied a goal with Sa brilliantly diverting his header on to the crossbar.
But instead of running away with the game, Arsenal’s resolve came to the fore at the Karaiskakis Stadium for the second time in under a month.
Twelve minutes after El Arabi had spurned a chance to put the hosts ahead, Gabriel towered above his marker to head in Willian’s right-wing corner, with Elneny’s late effort adding deserved gloss to the result.
‘Anything can happen’ – what they said
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, speaking to BT Sport: “We started the game really well, really dominant and creating a lot of chances.
“We gave them a goal trying to play out from the back but then we reacted well to score two more goals. Overall a really positive result but we have to stop making the errors that are costing goals because we cannot sustain that.
“It isn’t about concentration it is about when you play the ball. It is not about stopping the way we play because this is us. We were really solid, really dominant. We showed a lot of personality to come here and dominate like we did. The next thing is to do that for 90 minutes and give nothing to the opponent.
“This is half-time and anything can happen. Full focus and we start 0-0 again in the second leg and try to win the game.”
Willian the provider again – the stats
- Arsenal have won eight of their nine Europa League games this season (D1), and are the highest scorers in the competition so far (27 goals).
- Having won their first three home meetings with Arsenal in all competitions, Olympiakos have now lost their last three against the Gunners at home.
- Willian has provided more assists for Arsenal in all competitions than any other player this season (7), including setting up all three of Gabriel’s strikes for the Gunners.
- All four of Mohamed Elneny’s goals for Arsenal have come in European competition (1x Champions League, 3x Europa League), with three of those coming from outside the box.
- Martin Odegaard’s first-half strike was his first ever goal for Arsenal. The Gunners have now had more different goalscorers in the Europa League this season than any other side (14).
- No player has made more errors leading to a goal in the Europa League this season than Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos (2), with the Spaniard’s two errors coming in his last two games (also v Benfica).
- Olympiakos’ Youssef El-Arabi has scored in his last two Europa League games against Arsenal, with his two goals against the Gunners accounting for 50% of his total in the competition.