AARON RAMSEY and Alexandre Lacazette both scored twice in the first half as Arsenal romped toward the Europa League semifinals with a 4-1 thrashing of CSKA Moscow on Thursday.
Ramsey opened the scoring by rounding off a fine team move on nine minutes by firing Hector Bellerin’s cross into the roof of the net.
While CSKA were unable to cope with Arsenal’s speed of thought and movement at the back, they exposed the Gunners’ own defensive weaknesses.
Aleksandr Golovin curled home a wonderful free-kick after haphazard defending from Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny to level six minutes later before Ahmed Musa passed up a huge chance to put CSKA in front.
Arsenal got the slice of fortune they needed when Mesut Ozil was controversially awarded a penalty as he fell under Georgi Schennikov’s challenge.
Lacazette has endured a frustrating debut season at the Emirates, but made the most of the cup-tied Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s absence by confidently slamming home from the spot.
Ramsey then doubled his tally for the evening in style with an audacious flick over Igor Akinfeev with the outside of his foot to give Arsenal some breathing space from a teasing Ozil cross.
Ozil was again the creator when Lacazette also grabbed a double by shooting into the far corner for his first goal from open play in nearly three months.
Arsenal are likely to have to beat the might of Atletico Madrid to end their season on a high, though, as the favorites for the competition eased past Sporting Lisbon 2-0 in the first leg of their quarter-final.
Koke put the 2012 winners ahead in the Spanish capital after just 22 seconds and Antoine Griezmann’s 24th goal of the season put Diego Simeone’s men on the brink of a fifth European semifinal in his seven seasons in charge.
Elsewhere, Lazio edged a six-goal thriller 4-2 against Salzburg as all four home sides took an advantage into the second leg.
RB Leipzig lead French giants Marseille 1-0 as German international striker Timo Werner got the only goal for the Bundesliga side.