PIRAEUS ⸺ Arsenal took a big step towards reaching the Europa League quarter-finals when Martin Odegaard scored his first goal for the club in a 3-1 win at Olympiakos in the first leg of their round of 16 tie on Thursday.
The English side dominated the game and earned their victory in the closing stages as Brazilian defender Gabriel and Mohamed Elneny struck after Youssef El Arabi had cancelled out Odegaard’s opener.
Norwegian Odegaard was delighted after a fine individual performance.
“I have felt at home since the first day, I am happy to be here and feel great,” the 22-year old midfielder, who joined Arsenal on loan from Real Madrid in January, told BT Sport.
“It is a big win for us, a great result with three goals away from home and a win in this competition is always good. The mentality in this team is great, if one player makes a mistake we react. That is what it’s about, being a team.”
Arsenal missed several chances before Odegaard fired them ahead out of the blue with a 34th-minute strike from 25 metres through the hands of home goalkeeper Jose Sa.
Arsenal survived when Giorgos Masouras robbed David Luiz of the ball in the penalty area and fired wide when he should have squared to El Arabi in front of a gaping goal.
Olympiakos took advantage of another mistake in the 58th minute as Hector Bellerin gave the ball away and with goalkeeper Bernd Leno stranded, El Arabi scored with a clinical finish.
Bellerin made amends with a last-gasp intervention which denied El Arabi a second goal and it turned out to be a pivotal moment as Arsenal finished strongly.
Gabriel put the visitors back in front with a looping header when he rose superbly to meet Willian’s cross from the right in the 79th minute before substitute Elneny scored with a swerving drive five minutes from time.
“We were really solid, really dominant,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said. “We showed a lot of personality to come here and dominate like we did. The next thing is to do that for 90 minutes and give nothing to the opponent.”
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ed Osmond; Reuters