(Reuters) – Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud grabbed his 100th goal for the club and Theo Walcott chimed in with a double as they won 4-2 at Bate Borisov on Thursday to extend their perfect Europa League start.
The Group H victory in Belarus came after Arsene Wenger’s side raced into a three-goal lead within 25 minutes, including a goal off the shins of their defender Rob Holding.
France striker Giroud’s milestone came from the penalty spot soon after halftime as Arsenal’s experimental side had few problems against their accommodating hosts.
Arsenal moved to six points and are among six clubs with two wins from their opening games — Swedish surprise package Ostersund in Group J; Steaua Bucharest in Group G; Lazio and Nice in Group K and Zenit St Petersburg in Group L.
A first half penalty from Iraqi international Brwa Nouri handed Ostersund a gutsy 1-0 home win over Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin as they continued a fairytale first campaign in Europe two years after being promoted to the Swedish top flight.
Lazio made heavy work of beating Belgium’s Zulte Waregem 2-0 with Felipe Caicedo netting after 18 minutes but had to wait until Ciro Immobile scored in stoppage time for their second.
They were joined at the top of their section by Nice, who beat Vitesse Arnhem 3-0 after floodlight failure caused a 15-minute delay in the second half.
They were already 2-0 up by then with their second goal on the stroke of halftime from forward Allan Saint-Maximin, who picked off a stray pass in his own half and burst downfield to score. Alassane Plea added his second goal after the delay.
Zenit went three points clear in their group with a 3-1 home win over Real Sociedad, while European Cup winners Steaua came from a goal behind to win 2-1 at Lugano in Switzerland.
Upset victories saw Zorya of the Ukraine win 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao while Cologne were beaten by the same scoreline at home to Red Star Belgrade, with Ghana’s Richmond Boakye scoring in the first half. The Serbian club are two points behind Arsenal.
Olympique Marseille also lost as Salzburg’s Munas Dabbur took advantage of a cut-back to slide the ball home for the hosts, who take over at the top of Group I with four points.