Arsenal avoided any undue alarms as they cruised to a 3-0 Europa League win over Swedish minnows Ostersunds.
Arsene Wenger's men emerged in sub-zero temperatures at the Jamtkraft Arena and there was little prospect of the contest warming up after defensive errors from the hosts gifted a 13th-minute opener to Nacho Monreal.
Sotirios Papagiannopoulos' own goal compounded matters for Ostersunds and their English coach Graham Potter and, although their performance improved, Mesut Ozil marked his first appearance in the Europa League this season with a third in the 58th minute.
A run to the last-32 featuring wins over the likes of Galatasaray and Hertha Berlin has seen Ostersunds' produce a modern footballing fairytale in the Europa League this season.
They will need something altogether more fantastical to turn the tie around at Emirates Stadium next week – even more so after Tom Pettersson had a stoppage-time penalty saved, Hector Bellerin having needlessly hauled down substitute Tesfaldet Tekie.
Ostersunds goalkeeper Aly Keita put his side in trouble with a poor pass out in the 12th minute, only spared when Papagiannopoulos bravely blocked from Ozil, and his poor handling allowed Monreal to follow up Alex Iwobi's shot and open the scoring moments later.
5 - Nacho Monreal has now been directly involved in five goals in his last six games for Arsenal in all competitions (three goals, two assists), as many as in his previous 64 matches combined. Surge. pic.twitter.com/9cdUfGe6Gm— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 15, 2018
The entirely avoidable nature of the goals conceded by a seemingly overawed Ostersunds will have irritated Potter and Papagiannopoulos was powerless to avoid a 24th-minute own-goal after Pettersson gave away possession inside his own box for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to drill into the goalmouth.
Some similarly slack work in the defensive half from Arsenal prompted the hosts' first opening, with David Ospina acrobatically pushing over Alhaji Gero's shot from the edge of the area.
Ostersunds had grown into the contest as half-time approached and striker Saman Ghoddos drove at a backpedalling Arsenal backline to fire narrowly wide.
Potter sent on Tekie and Jamie Hopcutt in place of captain Brwa Nouri and Gero, a move that further encouraged his team's resurgence in the contest.
Shkodran Mustafi turned anxiously to the referee before the hour when Tekie went down in the area under pressure from the Germany international. Play was allowed to continue and Arsenal glided down the other end to make it three.
8 - Mesut Özil has been directly involved in eight goals in his last seven games for Arsenal in European competition (five goals, three assists). Visible. pic.twitter.com/MKdmrfo8Ys— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 15, 2018
Ozil exchanged passes pleasingly with Mkhitaryan but Keita was culpable once again, getting his hands to a shot that squirmed over the line.
Much of the remaining action resembled an extended training drill as far as the Premier League side were concerned, with prospects of defeat to a club who have been in existence for a shorter time than Wenger has been Arsenal manager all but extinguished by the time Pettersson rounded out a dismal individual outing by stroking his penalty into Ospina's arms.
Key Opta stats:
- Arsenal are now unbeaten in eight away games in European competition against Scandinavian opposition (W6 D2).
- Arsenal have won the first leg in the knockout stages of a European fixture for the first time since February 2011, when they beat Barcelona 2-1 in the last 16 of the Champions League (excluding play-offs).
- Ostersunds FK have lost their first home Europa League match in what was their seventh fixture in the competition (W5 D1).
- In fact, it is just the second match in which Ostersunds have failed to score in this seasons Europa League, and the first time they have failed to do so at home.
- Nacho Monreal has now been directly involved in five goals in his last six games for Arsenal in all competitions (three goals, two assists), as many as in the previous 64 matches combined.
- Mesut Ozil has been directly involved in eight goals in his last seven games for Arsenal in European competition (five goals, three assists).
- Arsene Wenger has visited Sweden twice in European competition while in charge of Arsenal - on both occasions he has been victorious over an English manager (Graham Potter, 2018; Stuart Baxter, 1999).
|Villarreal defender Semedo denied bail on attempted murder charge|
|Messi: I´m a less selfish player|
|Coaching Italy would be extraordinary – Mancini|
|Intensity key to Liverpool toppling Man City, says Klopp|
|People listen to idiots - Mourinho cites ´dictionary of life´ in extraordinary rant|
|Mourinho tells struggling Manchester United stars to ´grow up´|
|Real Madrid links ´massage the ego´ of Roma goalkeeper Alisson|
|Pele impressed by Tite´s ability to cope with Brazil´s modern challenges|
|FIFA Council approves open vote for 2026 World Cup|
|FIFA approves VAR use at World Cup|
|Sampaoli ignores Icardi and Dybala, adds Correa to Argentina squad|
|Neymar to Real Madrid? Ask Florentino Perez, says Emery|
|Pogba not as good as Kondogbia - Valencia boss Marcelino|
|Buffon: Most determined team will win Juventus-Madrid tie|
|Inter target Martinez likened to Aguero by Crespo|
|Dortmund boss Stoger defends Gotze criticism|
|Filipe Luis relishes overcoming ´obstacle´ as broken leg rules him out for two months|
|Blind cut from Koeman´s first Netherlands squad|
|Huddersfield wrap up permanent Lossl deal|
|Liverpool versus City promises goals, Juve plot Madrid revenge - Champions League quarter-finals in|
|Valencia midfielder Coquelin suffers torn Achilles|
|I could be in a league that´s won before kick-off – The best quotes from Mourinho´s tirade|
|Pardew fights on after West Brom talks|
|Juanfran hamstring injury adds to Atletico Madrid´s problems|
|Bayern can expect ´fiery atmosphere´ at Leipzig, says Hasenhuttl|
|Hughes encouraged by Southampton start|
|Juventus not thinking about Real Madrid just yet, Allegri claims|
|Morata has good World Cup chance despite being dropped, Lopetegui confirms|
|Foul-mouthed Klopp fumes at Premier League scheduling around Man City tie|
|Heynckes: Bayern have no interest in Malcom|
|Butragueno wary of Juventus ahead of titanic Real Madrid tussle|
|Liverpool-City a dream draw for Man Utd fans - Klopp|
|I won´t run away or cry - Mourinho delivers impassioned defence of Man Utd tenure|
|Emery demands focus from PSG after Champions League exit|
|Door still open for Reus and Gotze, says Low|
|Juventus can cause Real Madrid trouble, says Nedved|
|Javi Martinez, Fabregas, Morata absent from Spain squad, Marcos Alonso in|
|No preference on potential Barcelona-Real Madrid tie for Amor|
|Bayern can´t celebrate already - Heynckes wary of Sevilla threat|
|Marcos Rojo renews with Manchester United until 2021|
|Bayern´s Ulreich warned about ´witch´s cauldron´ at Sevilla|
|Klopp: I don´t mind facing Manchester City in Champions League|
|Europa League draw: Arsenal take on CSKA Moscow, Atletico get Sporting CP|
|Limbombe gets first Belgium call, Nainggolan back in the squad|
|Barcelona will have to sweat to beat Roma – Totti|
|Begiristain: Manchester City need to be almost perfect to beat Liverpool|
|Zidane is a much better coach now – Carvajal|
|The problem is real - Batshuayi targeted by racist abuse after Dortmund loss|
|Adelaide United 1 Melbourne City 1: Mauk rescues point against old club|
|Champions League draw: Juve face Madrid, City to meet Liverpool|
|AC Milan call for VAR in European competitions|
|Lyon and Zenit to be reported for ´incidents of racism´|
|Wijnaldum keen to dodge Manchester City|
|Schmelzer wants Dortmund attitude change ahead of Bundesliga run-in|
|Varane wants to avoid Barcelona in Champions League|
|Fractured fibula could end Filipe Luis´ World Cup hopes|
|Conte: Chelsea future not linked to winning trophies|
|Kokorin´s World Cup in doubt after knee injury|
|Wilshere keen to repay Southgate´s faith|
|Madrid, Barca and Juve among last eight: Champions League giants set for quarter-final draw|
|Varane confirms Man United interest|
|Neymar and Ronaldo would get along very well – Casemiro|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Gabriel sent off as Sasha leads Santos|
|Alli best in the world for his age – Pochettino|
|Carvajal: I would sign Neymar|
|Stoger unhappy with Dortmund display|
|Gattuso ´not going to judge´ English football on Welbeck dive|
|To have a funeral, you need to have a dead body - Mancini defends Zenit record|
|Lazio have gone beyond expectations, says Inzaghi|
|I don´t want to accuse Welbeck of diving - Wenger|
|Atleti boss Simeone worried about Filipe Luis injury|
|Lyon 2 CSKA Moscow 3: (3-3 agg): Away goals dash OL´s home final dreams|
|Red Bull Salzburg 0 Borussia Dortmund 0 (2-1 agg): Stoger´s men suffer shock exit|
|Arsenal 3 AC Milan 1 (5-1 agg): Welbeck at the double as Gunners reach quarters|
|Yellow card shown to Balotelli after alleged racist abuse rescinded|
|Viktoria Plzen 2 Sporting CP 1 (aet, 2-3 agg): Battaglia header sends visitors into quarter-finals|
|Security guards injured as violence mars Athletic v Marseille|
|Bravo criticised by Chilean FA chief for rejecting call-up|
|Dynamo Kiev 0 Lazio 2 (2-4 agg): Lucas and De Vrij send dominant visitors through|
|Zenit 1 RB Leipzig 1 (2-3 agg): European debutants reach last eight|
|Athletic Bilbao 1 Marseille 2 (2-5 agg): Payet inspires visitors to victory|
|Manchester City are Champions League´s strongest side, says Monchi|
|McTominay grateful for Mourinho´s faith|
|Guardiola fined by FA for ´act of defiance´ over yellow ribbon|
|Meunier hints at PSG exit|
|Vidal champions father figure Heynckes with Bayern on brink of title|
|In-form Barnes rewarded with new Burnley deal|
|Lokomotiv Moscow 1 Atletico Madrid 5 (1-8 agg): Torres double helps pile misery on Russians|
|Mawson ´ready´ for England as Carvalhal eyes Spurs scalp|
|Lambert: Shaqiri cannot do it on his own, he´s not Messi|
|Palace given fitness boost for ´exceptional´ relegation scrap|
|Anything can happen - Hamsik not giving up on Scudetto|
|Southgate keen to lead England at World Cup despite Russia tensions|
|Deschamps backs Pogba to bounce back from Manchester United struggles|
|Wilshere can be crucial but Hart faces battle, says England boss Southgate|
|Ben Yedder earns maiden France selection after Old Trafford brace|
|Wilshere returns to England squad as Pope, Tarkowski, Mawson come in|
|Thiago to only miss ´a few days´ of training|
|Pochettino: Positive Kane focused on recovery|
|Ramsey to undergo ´small procedure´, misses Wales duty|
|Man of the match Wednesday, charged Thursday - cat pitch invader lands Besiktas in trouble|
|Allardyce angered by Everton´s Sigurdsson statement|
|Ronaldo returns for Portugal friendlies|
|Cerezo adamant Griezmann is not leaving Atletico|
|Battle with Ronaldo, Arsenal assassin – Messi´s 100 Champions League goals in Opta numbers|
|Inzaghi pleased to escape VAR in Europe|
|Ibrahimovic not injured but being frozen out by Mourinho, claims Mutu|
|Chelsea settle ´right to light´ dispute over Stamford Bridge redevelopment|
|Wenger willing to let Ramsey enter final year of Arsenal contract|
|Injured Busquets a doubt for Champions League quarter-final|
|Shakhtar´s Ferreyra apologises for ball boy shove|
|I´m supportive of everybody who suffers - Wenger empathises with Mourinho´s struggles|
|Keane blasts ´schoolboy´ Pogba|
|Coutinho, Paulinho advised Arthur on Barcelona move|
|Heynckes optimistic of Neuer return in April|
|Nocerino not surprised by Milan´s resurgence under Gattuso|
|Wenger pleased with Mkhitaryan form|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: America sail into semis, Guadalajara upstage Sounders|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Madrid-bound Vinicius scores match-winning brace|
|Muscat signs contract extension with Victory|
|De Bruyne: City want to win Premier League title against United|
|Messi delighted to reach 100 Champions League goals|
|Milan boss Gattuso likes Wilshere ´a lot´ amid Serie A links|
|Emery: PSG a step closer to Ligue 1 crown|
|Chelsea fans ´hurt´ in clashes before Barcelona game|
|Chelsea made Barcelona suffer - Valverde|
|Iniesta puts April 30 deadline on Barcelona future|
|He makes the difference in every game – Iniesta hails Messi|
|Man United´s Bailly asks for forgiveness after Champions League loss|