Arsenal have booked their place in the round of Last 16 of the Europa League, despite falling to a 2-1 defeat at home to Östersunds FK.
Two goals in quick succession in the first half from the Allsvenskan side threatened to overturn the Gunners’ 3-0 lead on aggregate, in a disappointing initial 45 minutes from the hosts.
Sead Kolasinac then pulled a goal back for the North Londoners in the second period, setting the score at 4-2 on aggregate and cementing Arsenal’s passage into the next round of the Europa League.
With Arsenal’s date with Manchester City this Sunday for the Carabao Cup final, Arsène Wenger maintained a rotational look to his team, as they aimed to solidify a 3-0 aggregate lead.
The task of doing so wouldn’t turn out to be as easy as it may have seemed, however, as a bright start for the visitors enabled them to go in front by the 22nd minute, courtesy of Hosam Aiesh’s finish past David Ospina and the emerging Calum Chambers.
Östersunds set all the alarms off at the Emirates Stadium no less than a minute later, with Ken Sema doubling the Swedish outfit’s lead with another shot across goal to make it 3-2 on aggregate.
The best Arsenal could offer in the first half came through Jack Wilshere, already in the 42nd minute, with the English midfielder powering a half-volley from inside the box over and wide.
Hot from the break, the Gunners were able to pull the score back to 2-1 through Sead Kolasinac’s volley inside the area, picking up the scraps from a cross at the back-post in the 47th minute.
Arsenal neared an equaliser through Danny Welbeck in the 68th minute, with the forward unable to get enough power, as well as direction, to beat the goalkeeper from Alex Iwobi’s clip infield.
At the other end, Dino Islamovic threatened with a flick towards the back-post in the 84th minute that roamed just wide of Ospina’s goal.
Welbeck claimed the game’s final opportunity to equalise, cutting inside before pulling a save out of the goalkeeper with a left-footed strike, with the game closing at 2-1 to Östersunds.
By Patrick Ribeiro
David Ospina (5) – Héctor Bellerín (5), Calum Chambers (4), Rob Holding (5), Sead Kolasinac (6) – Mohamed Elneny (6), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (5) – Alex Iwobi (5), Jack Wilshere (5), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (5) – Danny Welbeck (5)
Subs: Granit Xhaka (6), Joe Willock (5), Reiss Nelson (-)