Arsenal are into the Europa League semifinals after a runaway 4-0 win over Slavia Prague in their quarterfinal second leg on Thursday night saw them advance 5-1 on aggregate.
The Gunners were without the injured Martin Odegaard and striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who revealed shortly before the game that he had been in hospital recovering from a case of Malaria contracted while on international duty with Gabon.
Emile Smith-Rowe looked to have put Arsenal in front just before the 15-minute mark, but his tap in from a Bukayo Saka shot that came back off the post was disallowed after a VAR check.
Soon after, Arsenal would go two up in the span of minutes after Nicolas Pepe smashed his shot into the roof of the net and Alexandre Lacazette converted from the penalty spot following a foul on Saka by Slavia’s Jakub Hromada in the area.
Saka then got on the scoresheet shortly after Lacazette’s penalty when he picked up the ball on the right flank, cut inside to his left foot and beat Slavia keeper Ondrej Kolar at his near post with a clever finish.
“I feel like in the first leg we played really well but didn’t take our chances,” Saka said after the match. “The way we pressed, they couldn’t get out and the control we had over the game, the movement, the rotations, they couldn’t stop us.”
The opening 45 minutes ended with Arsenal up 3-0, marking the first time Mikel Arteta’s side had scored three goals in the first half since a Premier League match against Leeds on Feb. 14.
“We know how important the competition is for the club, for ourselves and for the fans,” Arteta said after the match. “We brought a difficult result from the Emirates where we were not that efficient on the day and today we showed the complete opposite.”
The second half produced far less fireworks with Lacazette netting his second of the night from a quick-hitting Arsenal counter in the 77th minute to put his side up 4-0 with the tie already done and dusted.
The result means Arsenal will face Villarreal, who beat Dinamo Zagreb in their quarterfinal, on April 29 in a match that sees the Gunners go head-to-head with former manager Unai Emery.
“We looked a threat every time we were attacking,” Arteta added. “We scored a goal that was disallowed and I really liked the reaction of the team.”
The home side, who beat Leicester City as well as Rangers en route to the quarterfinals, reached the end of the road against an Arsenal side that pressured the Czechs all over the pitch.
“They were better today by every measure,” Slavia coach Jindrich Trpisovsky told reporters. “They scored with their chances and we lacked better movement to be more successful in the attack.”