France striker Alexandre Lacazette marked his first Arsenal start for two months with two goals as they took control of their Europa League quarter-final by demolishing CSKA Moscow in the first leg.
The Gunners scored four first-half goals, Aaron Ramsey’s side-foot finish setting them on their way.
Aleksandr Golovin levelled with a sublime free-kick before Lacazette, who has recovered from a knee injury, made it 2-1 with a penalty after Mesut Ozil was fouled by Georgi Schennikov.
Ramsey produced a third with an instinctive first-time effort, with Lacazette adding a fourth after being picked out by the outstanding Ozil.
Arsenal were unable to add to their tally in the second half but they will head to Russia’s capital for the second leg next Thursday with a commanding lead.
Gunners warming to Europa League
Arsenal, who have won five successive games in all competitions, should have triumphed by a more handsome margin in what was a cracking match.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan missed a great chance early in the second half, while Ramsey fired over the bar after keeper Igor Akinfeev had spilled the ball into his path.
Ramsey’s hopes of a hat-trick disappeared when his curling 77th-minute shot hit the post.
Nevertheless, Arsene Wenger’s side will be confident of reaching the semi-finals of a competition that provides a team sixth in the Premier League – 13 points off fourth place with seven games left – with their most realistic chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
Arsenal are certainly warming to the Europa League, collecting their eighth win from 11 games in the competition, scoring 27 times and conceding eight.
Assuming there is no second-leg upset in Russia, they still need to negotiate a two-legged semi-final to reach the final in Lyon on 16 May.
Yet the way they dismantled CSKA, who started their European campaign in the Champions League, was impressive.
Ramsey’s special finish
There have been some spectacular goals in Europe this week.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s superb overhead kick for Real Madrid against Juventus in the Champions League followed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s rocket shot for Liverpool against Manchester City.
Ramsey’s second goal was also sumptuous.
The Gunners were leading 2-1 when the Wales midfielder, spotting Akinfeev off his line, lifted the ball over the CSKA keeper from Ozil’s wonderful pass.
It was an audacious first-time finish and it left CSKA deflated as the Russian side conceded four goals in the space of 26 minutes.
Ramsey had scored the first of Arsenal’s four first-half goals with a finish high into the net and the midfielder, who scored against AC Milan in the last round at the San Siro, now has nine for the season.
He also had a goal ruled out for offside while the game was goalless before Arsenal went on to deliver a masterclass in attacking football.
Arsenal are back at Emirates Stadium on Sunday when they host Southampton (14:15 BST), while CSKA Moscow host rivals Dynamo Moscow in a derby on Monday (17:30 BST), before next Thursday’s second leg in the Russian capital.
More to follow.