Arsenal took a commanding step forward in their bid to secure a spot in the group stages of the Champions League as they strolled to a comfortable victory over Fenerbahce in Istanbul.
After a drab opener Kieran Gibbs latched on to an excellent team move early in the second half to open the scoring before Aaron Ramsey's effort from 25 yards evaded the hapless Fenerbahce stopper to double the visitors lead. The Gunners saw out an easy second half when Olivier Giroud struck a penalty after 76 minutes as Arsene Wenger's side responded in compelling fashion to their weekend defeat to Aston Villa.
If the Gunners' previous forays into the play off stages of this competition were anything to go by, there was a sense that Wenger's side would enjoy the vast majority of possession regardless of the feverish noise around them, not to mention their questionable form heading into the tie.
Fenerbahce didn't muster the courage to take the ball beyond the half way line until after ten minutes of the game but struggled to settle as patient football from the Gunners took precedence with Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky interlinking effectively as Walcott found space down the right with relative ease.
With the prospect of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain missing the next three months adding to Wenger's ever increasing list of woes, the last thing the Arsenal boss wanted to see was more casualties.
Arsenal were given an early scare when Wilshere appeared to have his ankle trodden on after running into a blind alley in midfield, but a collective sigh of relief would rise from the away bench as the England international was soon up and about after treatment.
Cazorla would fashion the game's first clear cut opening as he once again found Walcott breaking free down the right hand channel ahead of the already waning Michal Kadlec at right back. On this occasion, goalkeeper Demirel was out to slide the ball clear before a rather tame header from Giroud was steered away from trouble.
Although Wilshere was able to dust himself off after his early knock, Laurent Koscielny wouldn't be so lucky. Pierre Webo picked up the first yellow of the game after flinging a reckless leg over his shoulder which caught the Frenchman square in the face. Blood gushed as Carl Jenkinson was given the nod to start warming up to replace his stricken team-mate.
Already likely to feature at centre half this Saturday against Fulham Sagna was given an early chance to impress alongside Per Mertesacker as Arsenal's dilapidated squad took another hit.
Having controlled much of the first half but having failed to create an opening, it took the Londoners just five minutes into the second to fashion the clinical edge that had been sorely lacking.
Arsenal's best player of the first half Ramsey beautifully fed through Walcott who had broken clear on the right inside channel, having once again left his marker.
Timed beautifully, the 23-year-old teed up Gibbs who had emerged unmarked on the left hand side of the goal, who powered home confidently to seal a fantastic team goal and silence the Sukru Saracoglu.
The full back was involved again as Arsenal very nearly added a second minutes later. Gibbs played in a ball to the bombarding Wilshere who looked ready to fire an effort on goal before an onrushing Walcott appeared to take the ball off his team mates' toe before firing his own effort straight at the Fenerbahce stopper.
Wojciech Szczesny took a boot to the face for himself as the hosts mounted a counter of their own after Walcott's effort, as the Pole bravely smothered an attempt from Mossa Sow.
It was an encouraging sign for the hosts, but Arsenal were now finding their stride as the intricate triangle passes that failed to spring open the opposition defence in the first half were now seeing them carve open their Turkish opponents with relative ease.
After a powerful effort from Wilshere was bundled away, his midfield partner would take the game's decisive and potentially tie-defying moment.
Playing with growing influence and authority, Ramsey drifted infield from the left before striking a stinging effort from 25 yards out that was palmed into the bottom corner by the despairing Demirel.
Showing signs of life at long last, Sow threatened to bring his side back into the contest, capitalising on some casual defending from Sagna to allow the Senegal international to turn and strike a vicious effort which only just went over the left hand side of Szczesny cross bar. It was a rare moment of menace for a Fenerbahce side who were just short of appalling on the night.
Arsenal's night was sealed after 76 minutes after Theo Walcott was felled in the penalty area by Keldac, who had been tormented by the England international all evening. Olivier Giroud strode up to comfortably fire the ball into the top left hand corner as Arsenal eased into a commanding position ahead of the return leg at the Emirates next week.
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