Arsenal overcomes scare to reach Europa League semis

Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, left, celebrates with Danny Welbeck after scoring his side's second goal. (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

MOSCOW — Arsenal overcame a scare against CSKA Moscow Thursday to reach the semifinals of the Europa League while Salzburg staged a stunning comeback to oust Lazio with four goals in 20 minutes.

Played at a time of growing political tension between the British and Russian governments, there was no sign of trouble on the streets outside the VEB Arena in Moscow.

CSKA went 2-0 up to put Arsenal under pressure but the London club hit back to draw 2-2 on the night and progress 6-3 on aggregate.

Lazio seemed poised to clinch a place in the last four when Ciro Immobile struck in the 55th minute to give the Italian team a 5-2 advantage.

Salzburg, though, produced a spectacular recovery to become the first Austrian team to reach the semifinals of the competition in its current form.

Marseille also qualified after losing the first leg, beating Leipzig 5-2 to win 5-3 overall, while Atletico Madrid lost 1-0 at Sporting Lisbon but scraped through 2-1 on aggregate.

The semifinal draw will be on Friday.

Here’s a look at the action:



Arsenal had to show some second-half grit to help manager Arsene Wenger move within three games of winning his first European trophy.

Wenger’s team initially struggled on a cool spring night in Moscow, going 2-0 down after 50 minutes following goals from Fedor Chalov and Kirill Nababkin.

Danny Welbeck came to the rescue with a 75th minute goal before Aaron Ramsey went charging through the middle of the defence to grab Arsenal’s second goal in stoppage time and extend his team’s unbeaten run to seven games in all competitions.

Despite the political tension between Britain and Russia over the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal last month and this week’s developments in Syria, there was no sign of anger outside the sold-out VEB Arena.

The game was the last major European fixture to be played in Russia ahead of the World Cup and highlighted the country’s strategy of flooding city districts with security forces.

There was a heavy police presence outside the ground and in much of the surrounding areas, with officers lining the streets and keeping fans in the open by barring access to alleyways.

With Arsenal sixth in the Premier League, 13 points off fourth place, winning the Europa League is its best chance of a Champions League spot next season.



The UEFA organizers had been faced with the awkward prospect of two Red Bull-branded teams, Salzburg and Leipzig, meeting in the semis and a resulting conflict of interest.

But it was the lesser-known of the two teams that made the semis, with Salzburg taking advantage of a shock Lazio collapse. Stefan Lainer capped a remarkable four-goal burst when he netted with a diving header in the 76th minute.



In France, Leipzig went into the game against Marseille with a one-goal lead and opened up a 2-0 advantage on aggregate thanks to Bruma’s second-minute goal.

However, Marseille hit back via an own goal from Stefan Ilsanker and strikes by Bouna Sarr and Florian Thauvin.

Leipzig regained the advantage with Jean-Kevin Augustin’s 55th-minute curling shot before Marseille scored again through Dimiti Payet and Hiroki Sakai.



Atletico remains on course for a third European final in five seasons after holding off Sporting.

Fredy Montero’s 28th-minute header gave the home crowd hope in Lisbon but Atletico held on with the help of Jan Oblak’s goalkeeping.

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