Arsenal set up an all English Semi-Final against Chelsea this Friday, after dominating at the Emirates Stadium where they beat CSKA Moscow 1 – 0. Click here to see the Semi-Final fixtures.
The Russian side came to the Emirates having already tasted success in London this season after beating Arsenal’s next opponents, Chelsea, 1 – 0 at their Cobham ground. They got the match underway, however it was Arsenal who started more positively and within minutes Chuba Akpom had a header saved from point-blank range.
Minutes later Deyan Iliev, in goal for Arsenal, showed his only lapse in concentration with a poorly aimed throw. He redeemed himself with a confident interception from the resulting corner and went on to have a solid performance.
As the half drew on Arsenal began to assert more influence on the game and had a series of chances, often created by their two full-backs, Bellerin and Angha, who looked lethal when attacking at pace. CSKA weren’t without chances; they absorbed the Arsenal pressure well and launched several counter-attacks but were unable to find the final ball.
An exciting half-finished goalless and the Gunners were perhaps unfortunate to go in level at the break.
Arsenal started the second period as they finished the first, and Eisfield nearly put his side ahead two minutes in with a low shot that zipped past the far post.
Akpom’s relentless energy saw him close down Ambartsumyan and intercept in the final third. This led to another chance for the Gunners but after a threatening run down the left flank Ebecilio couldn’t quite deliver the cross.
Moments later the pressure paid off. Gnabry picked up possession just inside the opponent’s half and drove forward to find Bellerin on the right-wing. The full-back controlled well before returning to Gnabry who kept his composure to slot past the oncoming keeper.
The goal spurred Arsenal on and they had a period of heavy pressure over the next quarter of an hour, where were it not for a well-organised back four and some superb goalkeeping from Revyakin they would have had a second. It was plain to see why the young Russian keeper has already made several appearances for the first-team despite being just 17 years old.
As in the first-half, most chances for CSKA came from breaks and intelligent movement from the likes of Bazelyuk and Polyutkin, but the Arsenal defence were always quick to recover.
In the 90th minute Eisfeld nearly sealed the victory in style with a 30-yard free-kick that cannoned off the crossbar. The young Gunners then retained possession for the remainder of the game to cheers from the jubilant 7,000 strong crowd.
The result sets up a dramatic Semi-Final in Italy this Friday, as Arsenal play fellow-Londoners Chelsea for a place in the Final.