Aubameyang brace sparks Arsenal

Shine
ARSENAL warmed up for its crucial Europa League quarterfinal with a flattering 3-0 victory over relegation-threatened Stoke City yesterday.
Shine

ARSENAL warmed up for its crucial Europa League quarterfinal with a flattering 3-0 victory over relegation-threatened Stoke City yesterday.

Three goals in the final 15 minutes put a gloss on a largely soporific performance at a well-below capacity Emirates Stadium.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the first two goals, including a penalty opener.

Substitute Alexandre Lacazette netted the third, also from the spot, after he had been fouled.

Arsenal clinched back to back league victories for the first time since November.

But the result left both clubs in the same positions in the English Premier League table, with Arsenal sixth and Stoke second bottom. The Gunners will have to play better in the first leg against CSKA Moscow on Thursday in Europe.

With little chance of finishing in the EPL’s top four, Arsenal must win the Europa League to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League — a target that looks essential for under-fire Gunners boss Arsene Wenger as he fights to save his job.

Stoke had worked hard and looked to be on for at least a valuable point, until a late capitulation. The defeat leaves the visitors three points from safety with six games left.

Stoke had the better of the early exchanges, with Xherdan Shaqiri curling a decent effort wide of David Ospina’s post, the Colombian retaining his place in the Arsenal goal as Petr Cech missed out with a groin injury.

Arsenal took some time to get going and did not threaten the Stoke goal until the midway point of the first half.

Hector Bellerin’s low cross was deflected up into the air, with Jack Butland only able to send the ball in the direction of Aaron Ramsey, whose looped effort bounced off the top of the crossbar and behind.

Manchester City, meanwhile, is one win away from being crowned EPL champion after a swaggering 3-1 victory over Everton, while Mohamed Salah was Liverpool’s hero yet again as the Egypt star clinched a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola’s side maintained its 16-point lead at the top thanks to a scintillating first-half display at Goodison Park.

City, on a five-match winning run in the league, can look forward to the delicious prospect of sealing the title when second-placed Manchester United, a 2-0 winner over Swansea City, visits Eastlands next Saturday.


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