Giroud is spot on for 100th Gunners goal
Arsenal in control of Europa League Group H after beating BATE Borisov in Belarus
28 September, 2017 — By Steve Barnett
BATE BORISOV 2 (Ivanic 28, Gordeychuk 67)
ARSENAL 4 (Walcott 9 & 22, Holding 25, Giroud 49 pen)
THEO Walcott bagged a brace as Arsenal beat BATE Borisov in an entertaining encounter in Belarus.
The Gunners needed just nine minutes to open the scoring as Walcott tapped home at the second attempt after being set up by the impressive Jack Wilshere.
A goalkeeping howler from Denis Shcherbitski handed Walcott his second – the winger capitalising on a woeful clearance before drilling into the bottom-left corner from 12 yards.
On 25 minutes the visitors found themselves 3-0 ahead when Rob Holding scored his first Arsenal goal, turning the ball into the net from close range after Walcott’s corner was glanced on by Per Mertesacker.
BATE pulled one back three minutes later through Mirko Ivanic, who headed home Aleksey Rios’ pacey cross.
Walcott came within a whisker of completing his hat-trick before the break, forcing Shcherbitski into a superb fingertip save. Holding hit the post from the resulting corner as BATE struggled to deal with Arsenal’s setpieces.
Minutes after the restart Olivier Giroud was celebrating his 100th goal for the north Londoners. The French forward kept his cool from the spot after the Gunners were awarded a penalty when Stanislav Dragun pulled Shkodran Mustafi back inside the box.
Mikhail Gordeichuk made it 4-2 with just over 20 minutes remaining when he found the back of the net from six yards.
The result leaves Arsenal in control of Group H, sitting top with six points from their opening two games.
Two-goal hero Walcott said after the game that he was happy to sacrifice a potential treble to give team-mate Giroud the chance for something special.
“I felt we pressed well and attacked well, especially in the first 60 minutes,” he said.
“When you score four goals away from home, you expect to win.
“There was a chance for me to take the penalty for a hat-trick, but knowing Olivier was on 99 goals – it was a great opportunity for him so that’s why he took the penalty.”
ARSENAL: Ospina, Mustafi, Mertesacker, Holding, Nelson (McGuane, 79′), Willock (Nketiahat, 89′), Elneny, Maitland-Niles, Walcott, Wilshere, Giroud.
Substitutes not used: Akpom, Da Silva, Dragomir, Gilmour, Macey