Arsenal advances in Champions League with win at Ludogorets
Arsenal sealed its place in the knockout stage of the Champions League after coming back from two goals down to grab a late 3-2 victory at Ludogorets on Tuesday.
Mesut Ozil scored the winner two minutes from time at the Natsionalen Stadion Vasil Levski, securing a spot in the last 16 for the Gunners for the 17th consecutive season. The German international, who scored a hat trick in a 6-0 rout of the Bulgarians in the previous round of matches, showed his scoring instincts again with a superb solo effort after a breakaway.
He collected a through ball, lifted it over goalkeeper Milan Borjan, and then evaded two defenders before calmly slotting into an empty net. “It’s not over until it’s over!” Ozil tweeted. “Difficult start but great comeback with our 3:2 win today.”
Ludogorets struck twice within three minutes in the first half through Jonathan Cafu and Claudiu Keseru, only for Arsenal to equalize with goals from Granit Xhaka and Olivier Giroud before the interval.
Arsenal is tied with Paris SaintGermain atop Group A with 10 points from four games. Both have qualified with two group stage games to go.
The French club won 2-1 at Basel. “I was delighted that we managed to level before halftime,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “Now we play Paris at home and we have a chance to finish top. It is good that we have two excellent goalkeepers and this game proved why we need them.”
Arsenal seemed comfortably in control in the early stages before Cafu struck against the run of play, scoring in the 12th minute following a free kick from Wanderson.
Just three minutes later, Cafu set up Ke?eru to double the lead from close range. In Arsenal’s previous three Champions League games, David Ospina had conceded only one goal. But the Arsenal goalkeeper made a great save in the second half, denying Wanderson one -on-one on a counterattack.
Xhaka started the comeback in the 20th off a cross by Ozil from the left. After scoring his first two goals of the season against Sunderland on Saturday as a substitute, Giroud led the attack from the start and made his presence felt three minutes before the halftime, heading home an Aaron Ramsey cross to level the tie. Ramsey was returning to the starting 11 after a long-term injury.
Ozil then secured all the points when he sped through to score on the break. The Gunners have now gone 15 games unbeaten in all competitions since the opening day of the season. —AP
SOFIA: Arsenal’s Aaron Ramssey fights for the ball with Ludogorets’ Natanael during the Champions League group A soccer match at Vassil Levski stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria, Tuesday. —AP