Arsenal were able to rise to the occasion, as well as the weather, to defeat Östersunds FK 3-0 away from home in the first leg of their Last 32 Europa League encounter, this evening.
Nacho Monreal’s opener and a Sotirios Papagiannopoulos own goal facilitated the Gunners’ night in Sweden, with Mesut Özil later adding a third in the second half.
Östersund were then gifted a glimmer of hope with an 11th hour penalty, but David Ospina stood strong to deny the hosts from 12 yards and secure a clean sheet.
In the absence of the injured Alexandre Lacazette, Danny Welbeck was the man elected to lead the line for Arsenal, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Calum Chambers also picking up starts in an otherwise full-strength side.
As has become a bit of a habit of late, Monreal placed Arsenal in front in the 13th minute by reacting first to Alex Iwobi’s shot and turning in the rebound.
The Gunners continued take advantage of their retreated opponents, pegging back the Östersund backline before going 2-0 up via a Sotirios Papagiannopoulos own goal, deflecting in from Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s driven cross.
After a disappointing start for the hosts, Graham Potter’s side began to mount a reply to Arsenal’s dominance, with Alhaji Gero bringing Ospina into action with a powerful strike heading for the centre of the goal.
More gaps appeared in the Swedes’ defence on the break, but the North Londoners would settle for the couple of goals already obtained on their way to the interval.
With comfort setting in for Arsenal in the second period, Mesut Özil was still able to add a third to the account, as he squeezed a shot under the goalkeeper just before the hour mark.
Arsène Wenger’s men wouldn’t be able to keep their concentration levels up right up until the final whistle, as Héctor Bellerín caught himself wrong-side of Tesfaldet Tekie before bringing him down inside the box, giving Östersunds the chance to pull a solitary goal back.
It wasn’t to be, however, as Ospina, on his big day as Arsenal captain, second-guessed Tom Pettersson’s intentions from the spot to save the penalty in the 91st minute and clinch a 3-0 win.
By Patrick Ribeiro
David Ospina (7) – Héctor Bellerín (6), Shkodran Mustafi (6), Calum Chambers (6), Nacho Monreal (7) – Mohamed Elneny (6), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (6) – Alex Iwobi (6), Mesut Özil (7), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (6) – Danny Welbeck (5)
Subs: Sead Kolasinac (6), Reiss Nelson (-), Eddie Nketiah (-)