Arsenal reached the Europa League semi-finals with a 6-3 aggregate win over CSKA Moscow despite a nervy 2-2 draw in Russia. Arsene Wenger’s side were trailing 2-0 and under pressure when Danny Welbeck’s second-half goal gave them breathing space. The hosts, who led through Fedor Chalov and Kirill Nababkin, went close to drawing level on aggregate and leading on away goals as Petr Cech saved Aleksandr Golovin’s free-kick and Sergei Ignashevich shot narrowly wide. Arsenal, the leading scorers in the competition, did not have an effort on target in the first 70 minutes, and Laurent Koscielny wasted a glorious chance before Welbeck struck.
Aaron Ramsey’s goal in stoppage time made certain of their progress into the last four alongside Atletico Madrid, Marseille and Salzburg. Viktor Goncharenko’s men had dreamed of an upset when Chalov reacted before Shkodran Mustafi to score the opener after Cech saved Nabakin’s header. Cech was at fault when he could only parry Golovin’s strike from 25 yards and Nababkin reacted first to double the hosts’ lead. But Arsenal, who lost midfielder Jack Wilshere to injury, kept their nerve to enter the semi-final draw, which takes place in Nyon, Switzerland, at 11:00 BST on Friday.
Arsenal’s Europa League dream lives on – just – after a tense night in Moscow, and Wenger can still hope for his first European trophy with the Gunners. With CSKA leading and asking some severe questions of the visitors, it required Welbeck – who scored twice against Southampton after what Wenger described as a “dark” time in his career – to save the day. He latched on to a wonderful Mohamed Elneny pass to finish calmly 15 minutes from time. That goal knocked the stuffing out of an impressive CSKA, who recovered well from losing influential Russia midfielder Alan Dzagoev to injury in the first half. Ramsey, who needed treatment to a badly cut foot, showed similar cool when one on one with Igor Akinfeev with the local time past midnight. Arsenal will face Athletico Madrid in the semi-finals.