Theo Walcott

Peter Byrne/PA via AP

Europa League: Arsenal fend off BATE; Everton draw Limassol

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A roundup of all of Thursday’s Europa League group-stage action…

[ MORE: Carlo Ancelotti out as Bayern Munich manager ]

BATE Borisov 2-4 Arsenal

When Arsenal learned their European fate would be the Europa League this season, midweek trips to Belarus are precisely what they would have lamented. Alas, Arsene Wenger‘s side dealt with little resistance on Thursday, as Theo Walcott provided the Gunners an early two-goal lead (9th and 22nd minutes), followed not much later by Rob Holding‘s winner in the 25th minute, and Olivier Giroud‘s 100th goal for the club (all competitions) four minutes after halftime.

Everton 2-2 Apollon Limassol

Everton’s clash with Cypriot side Apollon Limassol went far less swimmingly, as Ronald Koeman‘s side dropped a pair of points in a game (and first half, particularly) that can best be summed up as a comedy of defensive errors. Ashley Williams got things underway…

Limassol returned the favor tenfold not even 10 minutes later, gifting Wayne Rooney the easiest goal he’ll ever score…

Nikola Vlasic scored his first goal for the club, what looked likely to be the game-winning goal for quite some time, but Limassol, down to 10 men at this point, grabbed an 88th-minute equalizer courtesy of Hector Yuste.

AC Milan 3-2 Rijeka

After spending more than $200 million during the summer transfer window, AC Milan’s season has started rather interestingly, if not predictably. With so many new figures central to the club’s future brought in during the same period, they were bound to require time to gel and find their stride. Thursday’s dramatic 3-2 win over Croatian side Rijeka serves as an ideal microcosm of that process.

2-0 up after 83 minutes (Andre Silva, 14th minute; Matteo Mussachio, 53rd), Milan did everything in their power to capitulate and drop two points at home. Boadu Maxwell Acosty made it 2-1 in the 84th minute, followed by Josip Elez in the 90th. It would be 19-year-old Patrick Cutrone, who as a product of the club’s youth academy accounted for $0 of the above sum, who played the part of hero on the day, bagging his third goal of the season (all competitions) in the 93rd minute.

Notable Europa League scoreboard

Lyon 1-1 Atalanta
Lazio 2-0 Zulte-Waregem
Maccabi Tel Aviv 0-0 Villarreal
Athletic Bilbao 0-1 Zorya
Zenit St. Petersburg 3-1 Real Sociedad
Salzburg 1-0 Marseille
Nice 3-0 Vitesse
Ludogorets 2-1 Hoffenheim
Oestersunds 1-0 Hertha Berlin

Walcott brace helps Arsenal top BATE in Europa League action

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The Gunners have certainly found their groove as of late, and Arsene Wenger‘s side has extended its unbeaten streak to six matches across all competitions with a win on Thursday against BATE Borisov.

Arsenal topped their Belarusian opposition, 4-2, behind a pair of first-half goals from Theo Walcott, while Rob Holding and Olivier Giroud also chimed in at Borisov Arena.

[ MORE: Man City confirms Mendy will undergo surgery for ACL injury ]

It took the Gunners just nine minutes to find the back of the net, when Walcott finished a close-range effort, before doubling the lead in the 22nd minute after a terrible giveaway by BATE goalkeeper Denis Shcherbitski.

Rob Holding soon gave Arsenal its third in the 25th minute (his first for the club) when a corner kick came his way. Per Mertesacker‘s initial header came into the path of the defender and deflected into Holding’s leg before entering the goal.

The home side manage to get a goal back before the half-hour mark though, when Mirko Ivanic’s powerful header beat David Ospina, despite the keeper getting a faint touch to the attempt.

The second half was made more difficult for BATE right out of the gate though, as Olivier Giroud struck his 100th Arsenal goal just minutes into the stanza from the penalty spot.

BATE closed the deficit to 4-2 with under 25 minutes remaining through Mikhail Gordeichuk, and continued to test the visitors in the latter stages of the match.

Arsenal sits in full control of Group H on six points following the team’s second straight win, while BATE drops to third place.

Arsenal 3-0 West Ham United: Ozil, Gunners break out

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  • Ozil nabs goal, assist
  • Walcott, Giroud also score
  • Arsenal rises to fifth

Arsenal looked its fanciful self in the second half of a controlling 3-0 London Derby win over West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

Mesut Ozil had a goal and an assist, and both Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud also scored in the win.

Arsenal rises above Manchester United on goal differential, four points back of Man City. West Ham is now just three points above the drop.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

West Ham earned nothing from a pair of dangerous free kicks, with the first played too far for Andy Carroll to turn on goal and the second curled just over the bar by Manuel Lanzini.

Theo Walcott skimmed a rare chance off the outside of the netting at the half-hour mark. He was again on the doorstep when Darren Randolph slid to deny his dribble just before halftime.

Scoreless at the break, and not a wild amount of entertainment to boot.

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The Gunners were lively to start the second half, with only James Collins‘ timely tackle stopping Mesut Ozil from opening the scoring.

It was Ozil who would score after West Ham wasted two chances to clear an Arsenal threat down the right. Ozil curled a low bounding ball that beat Randolph to the far post. 1-0, 59’.

Walcott made it 2-0 in the 68th minute, darting into the middle of the box to reap the rewards of clever work from Ozil and Alexis Sanchez on the left. Giroud added a goal in the 83rd to salt away the result.

It should’ve gone to four, or at least given Arsenal a fine chance for it, when Nacho Monreal was crunched down in the box. None given.

Arsenal 2-2 Manchester City: Gunners come back twice

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At times the defense was cringe-worthy. At times possession was painful. There were more than few bad giveaways. Both teams had moments of brilliance, but both teams also had moments of disaster.

All told, it ended even as Arsenal twice fought back to level the score as the points were shared at the Emirates with a 2-2 draw. Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero each gave Manchester City a one-goal lead, but both times they were pegged back as Theo Walcott and Shkodran Mustafi got goals for the Gunners.

The opening strike by City came less than five minutes into the match and it was embarrassingly easy for the visitors. After a Danny Welbeck attempt went wide, City countered immediately. A ball through the middle of the field gashed the Arsenal midfield and defense all at once, and Leroy Sane rounded David Ospina and passed the ball into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

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City continued to pepper the home side. David Silva hit the post in the 10th minute, and his second effort on the rebound was saved by Ospina from a tight angle. It appeared the visitors would truly dominate at least the first half, but that didn’t exactly occur. City began to sputter, failing to connect forward after their hot start. Arsenal looked to build large spells of possession, and they worked hard to equalize five minutes before the break.

On an Arsenal short corner, the eventual cross wasn’t cleared far enough, and Shkodran Mustafi headed it back to Theo Walcott who skipped by a defender and poked home to level things at 1-1.

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But it wouldn’t last long. City responded immediately, with Kevin De Bruyne hitting the post, and then they took a chance and went right back in front. David Silva fed Sergio Aguero on the right-hand edge of the six-yard box, and he finished from a very tight angle past David Ospina and two sliding defenders.

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Arsene Wenger was forced into a halftime change as Laurent Koscielny came off due to an Achillies problem, replaced by Gabriel. City came close to going two-up straight out of the break as Aguero headed wide, and Arsenal made them pay for missing. Again off a corner, Mustafi rose high above the trees and delivered a massive header to again draw the Gunners level.

Fernandinho forced a big save from David Ospina minutes later, rifling a bouncing ball low towards the bottom-left corner that Ospina parried away. Ospina was down to receive treatment for a hip injury but would continue. He was needed again in the 65th minute on an Aguero header which he lept high to catch.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Both teams cautiously looked for the win, and Alex Iwobi ripped a howitzer on the 88th minute that fizzled just over. Manchester City screamed for a penalty in stoppage time for a handball on Nacho Monreal, but there was little in the shout.

With the sides level at the final whistle, Arsenal stays in sixth place, two points back of Manchester United and still seven back of Manchester City in fourth. The visitors will be disappointed not to get all three points, as they stay in fourth, failing to take the chance to jump Liverpool.

UCL AT HALF: Arsenal, Napoli nab early goals

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Both trailing sides struck early in Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second legs, putting Napoli within striking distance of the quarterfinals.

Arsenal still has a mountain to climb, but has begun its attempt at the Emirates.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]  

Arsenal 1-0 (2-5 agg.) Bayern Munich

Theo Walcott‘s blasted goal lit up the Emirates Stadium crowd as Arsenal attempts to claw back from a 5-1 first leg deficit versus Bayern Munich.

The English attacker caught Manuel Neuer preparing for a low shot, and fired above the goalkeeper. Neuer got a small piece before the ball flew around the inside of the goal.

The club entered halftime up 1-0, but down 5-2 on aggregate.

Napoli 1-0 (2-3 agg.) Real Madrid

Elsewhere, Marek Hamsik found red-hot Dries Mertens to pull the hosts to within a goal of eliminating the reigning champs. Both Mertens and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo have put shots off posts in this one.