Arsenal on Tuesday received a Champions League lifeline courtesy of Alexis Sanchez’s double and assistance from Bayern Munich.
With the quality at their disposal, the Gunners should not have made life so difficult for themselves in Group F, but a spot in the round of 16 for the 16th consecutive season remains in their hands when they head to Greece to play Olympiakos next month.
The Gunners eased to a 3-0 victory over Dynamo Zagreb with the type of commanding display they required, but lacked in September, when the tone for the campaign was set by a damaging defeat in Croatia in the group opener. Those are the only points Zagreb have collected in five games.
Despite losing three of their five group-stage games, Arsene Wegner’s side can still advance next month by winning 2-0 or by a one-goal margin of at least 3-2 due to the head-to-head formula used by European governing body UEFA to separate teams.
Although Arsenal were depleted by injuries, a repeat of September’s loss to Zagreb never seemed on the cards at the Emirates Stadium.
“It was a good night because we did the job and played at a high pace and Bayern did the job, too,” Wenger said. “Now it’s down to how well we do against Olympiakos.”
It was a swift recovery from Saturday’s 2-1 loss against West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League.
Responding to Bayern’s early goals, Mesut Ozil sent Arsenal in front after half an hour with a diving header from Alexis’ cross.
“[Ozil] had an outstanding first half,” Wenger said. “He’s got the taste now for scoring. I’ve never seen him in the box so many times as in the last five or six games.”
Provider turned scorer four minutes later when Alexis tapped in the net after Nacho Monreal squared the ball to the Chile forward.
“It’s not easy to play against them,” Zagreb coach Zoran Mamic said through a translator. “Then when put they increased the pace it was difficult for us.”
The third came from Alexis with 20 minutes to go, meeting Joel Campbell’s defense-splitting pass and rounding goalkeeper Eduardo to ensure a comfortable conclusion for the hosts.
“Now we’re going to play for our lives,” Bellerin said of the game at Olympiakos.
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