Giroud reaches century as Arsenal win in Belarus
Olivier Giroud got his 100th Arsenal goal as a youthful Gunners side beat BATE Borisov 4-2 in Belarus in the Europa League on Thursday.
Theo Walcott netted twice for the Premier League side and Rob Holding was also on target as they eased to a second victory in as many matches in Group H.
Arsene Wenger’s side beat Cologne 3-1 at home in their first outing a fortnight ago, and the Germans lost again on Thursday, going down 1-0 at home to Red Star Belgrade.
Wenger made nine changes to the Arsenal team after they travelled to eastern Europe on the back of a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Monday.
Only Shkodran Mustafi and Mohamed Elneny kept their places, while a number of youngsters featured with Joe Willock being handed a first senior start.
It was two comparative veterans who combined for Arsenal’s early opener, though, with Jack Wilshere setting up Walcott to head in from close range.
Walcott made it 2-0 midway through the first half after an awful error by BATE goalkeeper Denis Scherbitski, who miscued a clearance straight to the England forward.
Holding then bundled in his first Arsenal goal but a superb header by Mirko Ivanic allowed the Belarusian champions to pull one back before the half-hour.
Holding and Willock hit the woodwork and Giroud converted from the penalty spot early in the second half, becoming the 19th player to reach a century of goals for Arsenal.
That was not the end of the scoring, though, as Mikhail Gordeichuk got the hosts’ second of the night, converting the follow-up after David Ospina saved from Ivanic.
Arsenal next go to Serbia to face a Red Star side whose winner in Germany was scored by Ghanaian international Richmond Boakye.
In other early kick-offs on Thursday, Marseille lost 1-0 away to Salzburg in Austria in Group I while Athletic Bilbao and Hertha Berlin both lost in Group J.
Felipe Caicedo and Ciro Immobile were both on target as Lazio defeated the Belgians Zulte-Waregem 2-0 in Group K.
In the same section, Alassane Plea scored twice and Allan Saint-Maximin found the net in stunning style after collecting possession deep in his own half as Nice beat Vitesse Arnhem of the Netherlands 3-0 in a game interrupted for around 15 minutes due to floodlight failure.
Former UEFA Cup winners Zenit St Petersburg were 3-1 winners at home to Real Sociedad in Group L with Russian international Alexander Kokorin scoring twice.
Later games include Everton — beaten at Atalanta on matchday one — at home to Apollon Limassol of Cyprus and AC Milan up against Croatian champions Rijeka.
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