EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

Europa League: Arsenal enter semis after surviving Moscow scare, Atletico on course for title

Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey scored for Arsenal as they drew 2-2 in the second leg with CSKA Moscow.

Arsenal survived a scare as they progressed to the last four of the Europa League on Thursday after coming back to draw 2-2 with CSKA Moscow in Russia.

Fedor Chalov and Kirill Nababkin scored for CSKA to set Arsenal nerves jangling in the Russian capital, as the hosts looked to overturn a 4-1 deficit from the first leg.

But Danny Welbeck pulled one back before Aaron Ramsey levelled the scores on the night in stoppage time, taking the Premier League side through 6-3 on aggregate.

“Maybe we were a bit surprised by the intensity of the game and we were not in the races in the first half. We were a bit on the ropes, but we had a good response,” Wenger told BT Sport after Arsenal secured a first European semi-final appearance since 2009.

“It should be every year. It’s never enough. You could see this week in Europe that you had a lot of turnarounds and you need to be completely focused, so let’s be prepared and see who we play.”

It was another night of comebacks in a crazy midweek in Europe, with Marseille and Red Bull Salzburg producing stirring performances to overturn first-leg deficits and go through.

Salzburg lost 4-2 to Lazio in Rome last week but won 4-1 in the return in Austria, despite Ciro Immobile giving the Italians a second-half lead on the night.

The hosts proceeded to score four times in 20 minutes to advance 6-5 on aggregate.

Marseille recovered from losing 1-0 away to RB Leipzig last week, and from falling behind to the Germans inside two minutes in the return at the Velodrome, as they won 5-2 on the night to progress 5-3 on aggregate.

A brilliant Dimitri Payet finish for Marseille’s fourth was a highlight as they made it through to a first European semi-final since 2004.

Atletico Madrid are also through, and remain the favourites to win the trophy in Lyon next month – they were beaten 1-0 on the night away to Sporting Lisbon but progressed 2-1 on aggregate.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

What are racers made of?

Grit, strength and oodles of fearlessness.

Sportspersons are known for their superhuman discipline, single-minded determination and the will to overcome all obstacles. Biographies, films and documentaries have brought to the fore the behind-the-scenes reality of the sporting life. Being up at the crack of dawn, training without distraction, facing injuries with a brave face and recovering to fight for victory are scenes commonly associated with sportspersons.

Racers are no different. Behind their daredevilry lies the same history of dedication and discipline. Cornering on a sports bike or revving up sand dunes requires the utmost physical endurance, and racers invest heavily in it. It helps stave off fatigue and maintain alertness and reaction time. It also helps them get the most out of their racecraft - the entirety of a racer’s skill set, to which years of training are dedicated.

Racecraft begins with something as ‘simple’ as sitting on a racing bike; the correct stance is the key to control and manoeuvre the bike. Riding on a track – tarmac or dirt is a great deal different from riding on the streets. A momentary lapse of concentration can throw the rider into a career ending crash.

Physical skill and endurance apart, racers approach a race with the same analytical rigour as a student appearing in an exam. They conduct an extensive study of not just the track, but also everything around it - trees, marshal posts, tyre marks etc. It’s these reference points that help the racer make braking or turning decisions in the frenzy of a high-stakes competition.

The inevitability of a crash is a reality every racer lives with, and seeks to internalise this during their training. In the immediate aftermath of the crash, racers are trained to keep their eyes open to help the brain make crucial decisions to avoid collision with other racers or objects on the track. Racers that meet with accidents can be seen sliding across the track with their heads held up, in a bid to minimise injuries to the head.

But racecraft is, of course, only half the story. Racing as a profession continues to confound many, and racers have been traditionally misunderstood. Why would anyone want to pour their blood, sweat and tears into something so risky? Where do racers get the fearlessness to do laps at mind boggling speed or hurtle down a hill unassisted? What about the impact of high speeds on the body day after day, or the monotony of it all? Most importantly, why do racers race? The video below explores the question.

Play


The video features racing champions from the stable of TVS Racing, the racing arm of TVS Motor Company, which recently completed 35 years of competitive racing in India. TVS Racing has competed in international rallies and races across some of the toughest terrains - Dakar, Desert Storm, India Baja, Merzouga Rally - and in innumerable national championships. Its design and engineering inputs over the years have also influenced TVS Motors’ fleet in India. You can read more about TVS Racing here.

This article has been produced by Scroll Brand Studio on behalf of TVS Racing and not by the Scroll editorial team.