Arsenal sealed qualification into the next round of the UEFA Champions League after coming from 2 goal down against Ludogorets to win 3 – 2.
The host had gone 2 up in the first quarter of the game thanks to goals from Cafu and Keseru before Arsenal rallied round through goals from Xhaka, Giroud and Ozil.
With eyes on the North London Derby coming up at the weekend, Arsene Wenger made 5 changes to the team that demolished Sunderland at the weekend with Ospina replacing Cech, Jenkinson for Bellerin, Xhaka – suspended domestically replaced Mohammed Elneny, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud replaced Alex Iwobi and Oxlade Chamberlain respectively.
Arsenal began the game the better side but couldn’t create anything substantial from their early domination. Aaron Ramsey couldn’t direct his acrobatic effort at goal while Ozil’s weak shot was easily gathered by Borjan. For all of Arsenal’s possession, the end result was nothing to write home about.
Arsenal’s profligacy in front of goal was punished by Ludogorets with two quick goals. The referee awarded a free kick for a handball by Xhaka which was taken by Wanderson. His delivery was perfect and Jonathan Cafu ghosted in at the back stick to turn in a free-kick and put the Group A minnows ahead.
Wanderson was again involved in the second goal moment later. Arsenal were caught on the counter with Wanderson sending in a delicious pass to Cafu. The Brazilian assaulted Kieran Gibbs on the way before squaring a pass for the waiting Keseru to slot in.
Arsenal were all over the place and one feared if it could have been more!
The Gunners got themselves together and pulled one back 5 minutes after through Granit Xhaka. Mesut Ozil’s delightful cross was slammed home by the Swiss man to score his first ever Champions League goal.
Olivier Giroud levelled things up in the 43rd minute after a wonderful cross from Aaron Ramsey, and at this point, it was a case of how many more the Gunners will score
Both sides made series of attempts to get the third goal but were either denied by brilliant goalkeeping or terrible finishing.
The game was edging towards a 2 – 2 draw when Mesut Ozil produced one final moment of magic in the 87th minute. Giroud tracked back to win the ball from midfield, Elneny sends in a beautifully weighted pass to the waiting MEsut Ozil who did well to escape Ludogoret’s offside trap. The German lifted the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper, sent the two Ludogorets defenders to Sofia before coolly slotting home to give Arsenal the lead.
The victory sends Arsenal through to the last 16 for the 17th consecutive season and all that’s left is to finish top of the group.
Job done and attention shifts to the North London Derby where we host Tottenhan Hotspur.