LONDON :Arsenal returned to winning ways with a routine 2-0 defeat of Sevilla to take a big step towards qualification for the Champions League knockout rounds on Wednesday.
Successive defeats in the League Cup and Premier League had halted Arsenal’s momentum but goals by Leandro Trossard and Bukayo Saka cemented their place as leaders of Group B.
Trossard tapped home in the 29th minute to put Mikel Arteta’s side in front and Saka underlined Arsenal’s superiority with a superb effort midway through the second half.
Europa League champions Sevilla were desperately disappointing and managed only one shot on target, with the last kick of the game, as their last-16 hopes receded.
The only blemish on an otherwise stress-free night for Arsenal was the sight of Saka, who set up Trossard’s goal, hobbling off late on after falling awkwardly.
Arsenal strengthened their position at the top of Group B with nine points from four games and would have qualified had Lens beaten PSV Eindhoven but the French club lost 1-0.
Lens and PSV have five points while winless Sevilla are bottom with two points.
After the fall-out from Arsenal’s controversial Premier League defeat at Newcastle United at the weekend, which sparked an emotional Arteta outburst, what the side needed was a routine night with no VAR drama and compliant opposition.
Arsenal got their wish as the technology that caused Arteta’s angst at Newcastle was redundant and Sevilla offered virtually nothing to cause alarm.
“We knew we had to get three points and we did it,” Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice said. “After the upset in the (League) cup last week and then at the weekend, the manager made it clear before the game a club like this can’t be losing three games in a row.”
Sevilla have endured a disappointing start to the La Liga season and the appointment of former Uruguay national Diego Alonso a month ago has hardly revived their fortunes.
They had managed only one win in his first five matches since he replaced Jose Luis Mendilibar – against lowly Quintanar in the Copa del Rey – and they never looked like pulling off a surprise victory in north London.
Arsenal were efficient rather than spectacular but dominated from the first whistle and Kai Havertz should have give them the lead inside two minutes but headed wide.
The hosts took the lead when Jorginho, captain for the night in place of the injured Martin Odegaard, released Saka down the right and he slid a pass across for Trossard to score his second Champions League goal of the campaign.
Havertz twice went close to scoring after the break, having one goalbound shot deflected away and firing another effort agonisingly wide of the far post.
Saka eventually gave Arsenal breathing space with a superb effort, racing on to Gabriel Martinelli’s pass down the right and then cutting back inside to place a left-foot shot past visiting keeper Marko Dmitrovic.
Arsenal keeper David Raya could have had the night off, such was his lack of involvement in the game, with his only save coming in the sixth minute of stoppage time from Mariano Diaz.