PARIS – Olivier Giroud got his 100th Arsenal goal as a youthful Gunners side beat BATE Borisov 4-2 in Belarus in the Europa League on Thursday.
Theo Walcott netted twice for the Premier League club and Rob Holding was also on target as they eased to a second victory in as many matches in Group H.
Arsene Wenger’s side beat Cologne 3-1 at home in their first outing a fortnight ago, and the Germans lost again on Thursday, going down 1-0 at home to Red Star Belgrade.
Wenger made nine changes to the Arsenal team after they travelled to eastern Europe on the back of a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Monday.
Only Shkodran Mustafi and Mohamed Elneny kept their places, while a number of youngsters featured with Joe Willock being handed a first senior start.
It was two comparative veterans who combined for Arsenal’s early opener, though, with Jack Wilshere setting up Walcott to head in from close range.
Walcott made it 2-0 midway through the first half after an awful error by BATE goalkeeper Denis Scherbitski, who miscued a clearance straight to the England forward.
Holding then bundled in his first Arsenal goal, but a superb header by Mirko Ivanic allowed the Belarusian champions to pull one back before the half-hour.
Holding and Walcott hit the woodwork and Giroud converted from the penalty spot early in the second half, becoming the 19th player to reach a century of goals for Arsenal.
That was not the end of the scoring, though, as Mikhail Gordeichuk got the hosts’ second of the night, converting the follow-up after David Ospina saved from Ivanic.
“When you score four goals away from home, you’re always likely to win,” Walcott told BT Sport.
“There was a chance for me to take the penalty for a hat-trick, but knowing Olivier was on 99 goals, it was a great opportunity for him, so that’s why he took the penalty.”
Arsenal next go to Serbia to face a Red Star side, whose winner in Germany was scored by Ghanaian international Richmond Boakye.