Arsenal breeze past Olympiacos to take commanding first leg lead
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Arsenal breeze past Olympiacos to take commanding first leg lead

Two late goals from Gabriel and Mohamed Elneny, coupled with an early Martin Odegaard strike, ensured Arsenal beat Olympiacos 3-1 in the first leg of their Europa League last 16 clash on Thursday night. 

The Gunners were the better side through the opening half, creating chance after chance but failed to find the back of the net. 

The first chance arrived after just three minutes, but Odegaard dragged his shot wide of the right post after he was skillfully found by Granit Xhaka. 

Two minutes later, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came close to finding the net, but his header, aided by former Arsenal star Sokratis, was tipped on to the post by the keeper, denying the Gunners an early opener. 

David Luiz then saw his free-kick from 25 yards out palmed away by the keeper, as the Gunners piled pressure on the Greek champions. 

After a couple of missed chances, the Gunners finally broke the deadlock in the 34th minute in spectacular fashion. 

Odegaard found some space 25 yards out, and the youngster unleashed a stinging shot for his first Arsenal goal, even though the keeper should have done better. 

Poor defending almost allowed the Greeks back when Luiz was robbed by Masouras, but he could not find the target as the match went into the break with the Gunners leading. 

The second half was action-packed as the Greeks pulled one back, before two late goals all but ensured the Gunners have one foot in the last eight.  

The Gunners first gifted their opponents the equaliser after another failed attempt to build from the back. 

Gabriel played the ball back to Leno, who looked forward to a massively under-pressure Ceballos with a poor pass, and the Spaniard lost possession with El-Arabi curling a shot from 30 yards out for the equaliser. 

The hosts missed two chances to take the lead, and they paid late on as Mikel Arteta's men scored two quick goals. 

First, Gabriel rose highest to plant a superb header past the goalkeeper following a short corner, making it 2-1.

With five minutes to go, Mohamed Elneny, who had just been introduced, added a third in spectacular fashion, unleashing a swerving shot that beat Sa in goal via the post for a 3-1 lead. 

The Gunners could have added one or two in the last minutes but failed to find the back of the net from their half-chances. 

The win gives the Gunners a healthy lead going into the second leg set for next week. 

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