Arsenal and Tottenham took significant steps to qualify for the quarter-final of the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League on Thursday with comfortable first leg leads.
Arsenal scored twice in the last 10 minutes to defeat Olympiacos 3-1 while Harry Kane scored twice-in the first and second halves of Tottenham’s 2-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb.
Arsenal were the better side for long periods at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, but Mikel Arteta will be worried about his team’s penchant for giving opponents scoring chances.
On-loan midfielder, Martin Odegaard, had the first scoring chance for the Gunners after just three minutes, but he dragged his effort wide.
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang had a headed chance in the sixth minute, but Jose Sa made a great save. It thus set the pattern for the match.
Sa produced another save from David Luiz with less than 20 minutes on the clock but on 21 minutes, Odegaard gifted the ball to Bruma but he shot straight at Bernd Leno.
But Odegaard was soon on the right track, thundering a 30-yard fizzing effort past Sa for the opener. It was the Norwegian’s first goal since coming on loan to Arsenal from Real Madrid.
On 40 minutes, Luiz gifted the ball to Masouras, who could only fire high and wide with Youssef Al-Arabi calling for a simple pass and a with a better chance to score.
Dani Ceballos came on for Thomas Partey in the 56th minute and it was the Spaniard who was robbed two minutes later by El-Arabi and the Moroccan made Arsenal pay this time with a lovely effort from 30 yards.
Olympiacos had not been dangerous all evening, but Arsenal were intent on handing out early Easter Eggs.
El-Arabi could have had a second in the 67th minute after a neat interchange of passes near the Arsenal box, but his goal-bound shot took a deflection for a corner and saved Arsenal’s blushes.
Gabriel then leaped and directed a cross from Willian into the far corner of Sa’s goalpost to give Arsenal the lead.
They were not finished as substitute Mohamed Elneny completed the scoring with a shot from almost 40 yards that Sa could only divert against the post and into the net. Arsenal are well set up for the second leg coming up next week.
Meanwhile, in London, Tottenham needed two goals from Kane to overcome the obstacle of Dinamo Zagreb.
Kane got on the end of a rebound off the post from an Erik Lamela shot to give Tottenham the lead on 25 minutes. He completed his brace in the 70th minute after neat footwork in the box.