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Sizzling Arsenal sweep Shakhtar aside

Arsenal FC 5-1 FC Shakhtar Donetsk
The hosts took their tally to 14 goals from three encounters as they racked up another heavy win to maintain a perfect record in Group H.

Sizzling Arsenal sweep Shakhtar aside
Sizzling Arsenal sweep Shakhtar aside ©UEFA.com

Arsenal FC were rampant once again on home turf as they added another five goals to the six with which they overwhelmed SC Braga to establish themselves as unchallenged frontrunners in Group H. Having made FC Shakhtar Donetsk their third successive victims, the Gunners lie on the verge of the knockout phase yet again.

The Ukrainian side's joint heaviest defeat in European competition was something of a surprise considering they had also started out with consecutive wins, plus two clean sheets. They lapsed defensively when Alex Song opened the scoring, conceded a smart second to Samir Nasri before the break and, after Cesc Fàbregas drove in a penalty on the hour, their resistance drained away, facilitating goals for Jack Wilshere and Marouane Chamakh before Eduardo scored a popular consolation on his return to north London.

Shakhtar initially defended with composure at the back, happy to retain possession in their defensive third. Few alarms rang out, and certainly not when a right-wing corner drifted towards Andriy Pyatov. However, the goalkeeper fumbled and, after Johan Djourou had got a toe to it, Song forced it into the net.

Chamakh then offered Nasri the chance to make it two, but while the Frenchman connected well enough, he aimed straight at Pyatov. When Henrik Mkhitaryan and Răzvan Raţ both unleashed shots on goal, Shakhtar's fans might have assumed they were beginning to mount a threat, but those thoughts were immediately dispelled as Song launched a cross which Nasri controlled with a sublime touch, paving the way for an emphatic left-footed finish.

The visitors introduced Douglas Costa and soon after Mkhitaryan played in Luiz Adriano, but Łukasz Fabiański came to the rescue with a crucial save. Arsenal put the issue beyond doubt when Adriano's tug on Djourou enabled Fàbregas to cap his return after injury with a penalty conversion. The Arsenal captain departed soon after, while Eduardo came off the bench to huge acclaim from his former supporters.

The Croatian international had no chance to influence things before Arsenal had made it four, however, Wilshere combining fluently with Tomáš Rosický before lifting the ball over Pyatov. Shakhtar were heading for a Braga-style defeat and their focus waned, with Chamakh enjoying time to check his onside status following Nasri's scooped pass and then slotting in number five. At least Eduardo was able to end the night with a smile, running onto a cross to drive home. The Arsenal faithful cheered that one too.