Arsenal overcome BATE in six-goal thriller as Olivier Giroud reaches century

  • Theo Walcott headed Arsenal ahead inside 10 minutes.
  • Walcott doubled lead mid-way through the first half.
  • Rob Holding taps in first Gunners goal.
  • Mirko Ivanić pulled one back with flying header.
  • Olivier Giroud fired home penalty for 100th Arsenal goal.
  • Mikhail Gordeichuk halved the deficit again with a close range strike.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger laments 'cruel' fixture pile-upHayters

Well that brings an end to our Europa League coverage from Belarus. We'll have all the reaction from Arsene Wenger after the game in the coming hours, but until next time its goodbye.

Full time: BATE Borisov 2-4 Arsenal

An entertaining topsy-turvy game comes to an end and Arsenal have six from six in the Europa League after a six-goal thriller in Belarus. Theo Walcott scored twice, and Rob Holding netted his first Gunners goal in the first half, before Mirko Ivanic pulled one back.

Olivier Giroud hammered home his 100th for Arsenal from the penalty spot and despite Mikhail Gordeichuk netted a second for the hosts the result was never in doubt.

Stasevich cuts inside on the left but shanks his cross which goes high over the bar. That feels like BATE's last chance.

Joe Willock off and Eddie Nketiah on as another Arsenal debutant enters the fray.

Igor Stasevich's cross is turned behind by Rob Holding. BATE waste the corner after taking it short but they continue to press hard for this third goal which might set up a grand stand finale.

McGuane straight into the action and he finds Walcott, who snaps at the shot and the chance is gone as the balls rolls wide. Poor effort and that sixth Arsenal hat-trick looks more elusive now.

Marcus McGuane on for his Arsenal debut. Reiss Nelson off. Just under 12 minutes to impress for the player who joined the Gunners aged six.

Olivier Giroud powers home a penalty for his 100th Arsenal goal.

Reuters

Bizarre game this. Both teams are throwing men forward without a care in the world and the goalkeepers from either side are obliging with some horrible handling. BATE will fancy their chances of taking a point even if there is less than 20 minutes on the clock.

Aleksandr Volodko should really have BATE back in it. The hosts work it well as Gordeichuk pulls the ball back but Volodko can't find the target from 15 yards. Big opportunity.

GOAL! BATE Borisov 2-4 Arsenal (Mikhail Gordeichuk)

Arsenal keep giving BATE a glimmer and they are within two again with still a quarter of the game remaining. Ospina weakly palms Ivanic's close range effort and Gordeichuk reacts first to hammer home.

BATE have come again in search of a second, and another way back into this game, but to no avail at the moment. Arsenal surely on their way to a healthy win.

GOAL! BATE 1-4 Arsenal (Olivier Giroud)

I spoke earlier about this being the biggest night in the referee's career, and it might be the last major game of his tenure as an official. A penalty is awarded after an over-hit free-kick - goodness knows what for - and Giroud obliges to net his 100th Arsenal goal.

Back under way in Belarus. No changes at the break.

Half time: BATE Borisov 1-3 Arsenal

Blimey, take a breath. Arsenal have cruised through the first half in Belarus through two goals from Theo Walcott and one for Rob Holding. Mirko Ivanic has pulled one back but the way the hosts are defending, I'd be stunned if the Gunners don't add to their lead. Jack Wilshere has been mesmeric.

Rob Holding turns in his first Arsenal goal.

Reuters

Theo Walcott should be celebrating his sixth Arsenal hat-trick but a superb save from Scherbitski turns it behind. From the corner, Mertesacker and Holding cause problems and the latter swings a leg at the ball and strikes the post. They could have had six in this half alone.

Arsenal have looked a bit of a mess since the BATE goal and the hosts have another free-kick in a promising position. Joe Willock gets a stray arm but Nemanja Milunović escapes any punishment for the offence, with Arsene Wenger fuming.

BATE look a completely different side since the goal and it takes a fine save from Ospina to turn away a free-kick as they threatened to further close the deficit.

Walcott celebrates putting Arsenal into a two-goal lead.

Reuters

GOAL! BATE Borisov 1-3 Arsenal (Mirko Ivanić)

is the comeback on? BATE get one back. A cross from the right evades Elneny and Ivanic connects on the run and blasts a header past David Ospina, who looked all at sea.

GOAL! BATE Borisov 0-3 Arsenal (Rob Holding)

Dear oh dear. Arsenal have the points in the bag after a third goal inside 26 minutes. Per Mertesacker rises highest from a corner and Holding is in the right place, at the right time, to tap the visitors further ahead. BATE have been laughable.

GOAL! BATE Borisov 0-2 Arsenal (Theo Walcott)

Denis Scherbitski hang your head. The BATE 'keeper presents the ball straight to the Arsenal forward who gobbles up the chance by finding the corner. Amateur hour.

BATE not really offering anything in attack until Ivanic's shot from 20 yards beats Ospina, and the post. The Belorussian fans haven't exactly been in raptures but they need no invitation to turn this stadium into a cauldron.

Theo Walcott puts Arsenal into a 10th minute lead.

Reuters

Ball in the net for Arsenal again but the offside flag is up. Wilshere plays the ball to Walcott on the right and his cushioned cross finds his England teammate, who taps home but the whistle had already gone. Looked like a shocking decision on reflection.

GOAL! BATE Borisov 0-1 Arsenal (Theo Walcott)

The Gunners have the lead in what could have been a tricky night. Jack Wilshere exchanges passes with Walcott, drives into the penalty area and clips the ball across where Walcott is on hand to head beyond Scherbitski.

Arsenal should be ahead after a nervy opening. Wilshere releases Walcott who o0n his left foot hits the post and his follow-up effort is headed clear by Milunovic.

Under way in Belarus. Arsenal in a turquoise and dark blue strip. Nice away kit tick. And completely unnecessary too, with BATE in all yellow.

Around 700 Arsenal fans have made the trip to Borisov this evening. Long way to go for their team to let them down.

So has Arsene Wenger got the balance right with his line-up? Experience at both ends of the field, but in the midfield there are a handful of untested youngsters at this level. We're close to finding out whether those players will sink or swim as both teams enter the field of play.

Back to the game tonight, and I fancy the evening may be littered with little stats such as this.

Another big football today saw Carlo Ancelotti sacked as the Bayern Munich manager after his side's 3-0 defeat to PSG in the Champions League. Three points off the top and a Bundesliga title in the bag is not enough for the Italian to keep his job. Read all about his departure here.

If you didn't read about it earlier - and you'd be forgiven for not - England announced their squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers next week. Dele Alli has been included despite the prospect of him being suspended for the game.

For the news on the rest of the squad, head this way.

BATE have a decent home record in Europe and have not been turned over since Barcelona beat them 5-0 in the Champions League group stage a few years ago. They are on a run of seven without a defeat however.

These two sides have never met in European competition previously, while Arsenal have never faced a side hailing from Belarus.

But in 2009 BATE did come across a side from England in Everton, another side involved in Europa League action tonight. They lost 2-1 to the Toffees in the first group game before winning at Goodison Park when the Premier League outfit had already qualified. Alexsandr Yurevich netted the only goal on that occasion.

Getty Images

Here is another stat to emphasise the gamble Wenger is taking tonight.

Here is a guided tour around the Borisov Arena, who has been open since 2014.

Wenger really going with youth tonight.

Big night for referee Daniel Stefanski, who referees arguably the biggest game of his career. Normally forced to settle for games in the Polish league and European qualifiers, he finds himself in charge of a Europa League group game for just the second time.

No changes for the Belorussians as they stick with the same side which beat FC Slutsk 6-0 at the weekend. Hat-trick hero from that game Mikhail Gordeychuk keeps his place.

And here comes the BATE team: Scherbitski, Rios, Gaiduchik, Milunovic, Polyakov, A.Volodko, Dragun, Gordeichuk, Ivanic, Stasevich, Rodionov.

A view of the 13,000-capacity Borisov Arena, where tonight's game will be played.

Reuters

We await the BATE team with baited breath but they come into this game in good shape having won each of their last four games in the Belrusian Premier League without conceding.

Four changes for Arsenal from the team which beat Cologne two weeks ago, or nine from the win over West Brom.

Shkodran Mustafi, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson and Jack Wilshere are the alterations from the 3-1 opening group stage win a fortnight ago. Mustafi and Mohamed Elneny are the only survivors from the 2-0 win over the Baggies.

And the Arsenal team is in over an hour before kick-off.

Arsenal have arrived in central Belarus.

So how might an inexperienced Arsenal team line up tonight?

A host of first team players have been left in north London including Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and forward Reiss Nelson, who both featured in the group opener against Cologne, are expected to feature.

Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott may also be recalled while David Ospina will start in goal.

After the raucous created by Cologne's trip to north London a fortnight ago, Arsenal continue their adventure in the Europa League with a 2,700-mile round trip to Belarus to take on champions BATE Borisov.

Normally plying their trade in the Champions League group stage, BATE have won their domestic title in each of the last 11 years and could teach their visitors a thing or two about domestic domination. The Gunners have not won the Premier League during that period.

Arsenal have taken a gamble and left behind a handful of first team players ahead of facing Brighton this weekend. Messieurs Sanchez, Ozil and Cech have all failed to travel, with Charlie Gilmour, Vlad Dragomir and Josh Dasilva all in contention to feature.

All the team news ahead of the 6pm kick-off on the way.

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