Arsenal romped towards the Europa League semi-finals with a 4-1 thrashing of CSKA Moscow on Thursday in a match devoid of any of the political tension that threatened to overshadow the tie due to frosty relations between London and the Russian capital.
Britain has suspended high-level diplomatic contact with the Russian government after former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with a nerve agent in the southern English city of Salisbury last month.
However, with only around 200 CSKA fans making the long journey west, there was little bad blood inside the ground for the quarter-final first leg.
And Arsenal quickly ended any doubt over the contest on the field as Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette both scored twice in the first half to surely put the tie out of CKSA’s reach.
Languishing in sixth in the Premier League, 13 points adrift of the top four, Arsenal’s last realistic hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League is by winning the Europa League in Lyon on May 16.
And that desperation showed in a fast start with the trickery of Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan pulling the Russian defence apart.
Mkhitaryan should have put the hosts…