Late goals from Gabriel and Mohamed Elneny spared Arsenal’s blushes from an earlier defensive howler as the Gunners rallied to a 3-1 first-leg lead over Olympiakos in their Europa League last-16 tie.
The Gunners dominated for the most part in Athens, and held a deserved half-time lead through Martin Odegaard’s long-range first goal for the club although Olympiakos missed a gilt-edged chance to level from a David Luiz error.
They had less mercy on the visitors following another defensive mix-up after half-time, when Dani Ceballos was robbed by Youssef El-Arabi when miss-controlling an ill-conceived pass from Bernd Leno, before the Olympiakos top scorer levelled from distance.
Arsenal, knocked out by these opponents in last year’s Europa League, wobbled from that point but restored their lead 11 minutes from time when Gabriel pounced to power home Willian’s cross, before substitute Elneny fired in a powerful third to give Mikel Arteta’s side a commanding lead ahead of next week’s second leg in north London.
Arsenal’s willingness to attack down both flanks posed early problems for Olympiakos, who had no answer as Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney doubled up on the wings to good effect, and within three minutes should have been ahead when the Scot’s low ball to an unmarked Odegaard was dragged wide of the far post.