Chelsea, Arsenal through in Europe League

February 22, 2019
ap
Arsenal’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos (left) celebrates with teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after scoring his side’s third goal during the Europa League round-of-32 second-leg match against BATE Borisov at the Emirates Stadium in London, England, yesterday.
ap Arsenal’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos (left) celebrates with teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after scoring his side’s third goal during the Europa League round-of-32 second-leg match against BATE Borisov at the Emirates Stadium in London, England, yesterday.

(AP):

Chelsea shook off their recent troubles and easily advanced in the Europa League with a 3-0 second leg victory over 10-man Malmo yesterday, a result that takes some pressure off coach Maurizio Sarri.

After a goalless first half, Olivier Giroud tapped in a cross from Willian in the 55th minute before Ross Barkley made it 2-0 from a free kick. Callum Hudson-Odoi finished it off in the 84th, with Willian setting up his goal as well.

Giroud and Barkley also scored in a 2-1 victory in the first leg, with Chelsea advancing to the round of 16 with a 5-1 win on aggregate.

The result provides some relief for Sarri, the Italian coach who was subjected to abuse from Chelsea supporters after the side's FA Cup loss to Manchester United at home on Monday.

"We played the first 30 minutes without confidence, nervous," Sarri said. "After the first goal, we played very well -- we started to move the ball very fast, with confidence."

On Sunday, Chelsea play the League Cup final against Manchester City and then faces an English Premier League (EPL) meeting with crosstown rivals Tottenham -- two games that could yet determine whether Sarri's stay at Stamford Bridge will be over before his first season ends.

Sarri's position was already being called into question after the 6-0 loss at City in the EPL on February 10. Even worse, the team dropped to sixth in the league in recent weeks and are out of the top 4 UEFA Champions League places.

Earlier yesterday, Arsenal rebounded from a 1-0 loss to BATE Borisov a week ago with a comprehensive 3-0 second-leg victory.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang forced an early own goal before centre backs Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos added one apiece for Arsenal to advance 3-1 on aggregate.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery made three changes to the starting line-up he used last week in Belarus, bringing on playmaker Mesut Ozil and defender Stephan Lichtsteiner while Aubameyang replaced suspended French forward Alexandre Lacazette .

Those changes paid off.

Aubameyang needed just four minutes to create the opener. He broke down the right before his cross hit defender Zakhar Volkov, who diverted the ball past goalkeeper Denis Scherbitski.

Lichtsteiner made his presence felt when he saved on the goal line minutes later.

Mustafi headed home the second from Granit Xhaka's corner six minutes before interval. Papastathopoulos scored with another header on the hour mark, just four minutes after coming from the bench as substitute to replace injured captain Laurent Koscielny.

Aleksandr Hleb, who played for Arsenal from 2005-08, came on as substitute in the 58th and was applauded by the home fans at the Emirates Stadium.

Italian clubs Napoli and Inter also had no problems to make the next phase while last year's semi-finalists Salzburg, Eintracht Frankfurt, Valencia, Villarreal, Dinamo Zagreb, Zenit, Benfica, Kiev, Rennes, Krasnodar and Slavia Prague all made it through.

Former champions Sevilla advanced after knocking out Lazio on Wednesday.

The draw for the last 16 is scheduled for today.

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