Ar­se­nal ad­vances in Cham­pi­ons League with win at Lu­do­gorets

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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

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