So the impossible dream is still alive and the Gunners now just have to go to Olympiakos and win by two clear goals to amazingly reach the Champions League knockout stages. It was strangely quiet in the stadium for most of the first half but Arsenal were dominant right from the off.
It seemed a little tense early and Cazorla somehow managed to sky our first chance of the game, but as the news came in that Bayern Munich had raced into a 3-0 lead against Olympiakos the Gunners just knew that they had to keep their part of the bargain. There was visible relief when Ozil broke the deadlock after half an hour with a beautifully placed low header. Nerves were laid to rest just four minutes later when Sanchez was given an easy shot from a Monreal pass. Arsenal were much cooler now and camped out in Zagreb’s half without actually scoring again, but the Gunners dominance was highlighted at half-time with the stat that we had 9 shots to Zagreb’s 1 in the first 45 minutes.
Into the second half and Zagreb actually starting getting near the Arsenal goal, but only for about ten minutes and without actually troubling Petr Cech. The Gunners quickly regained ascendence and started peppering Zagreb again. Campbell hasn’t really managed to impress again, but even he was rewarded with an unlikely shot on goal, but screwed his shot completely. With half an hour to go (surprise!) Wenger sent Aaron Ramsey out to warm up, but we were all surprised when he took a frustrated Giroud off to put the Welshman on.
With Olivier off the pitch, he could hardly have settled into his seat when Sanchez scored his second and Arsenal’s third after a lovely pass from Campbell (at last) and a brilliant dance with their goalkeeper, the game was put to bed. There was a little excitement when Sanchez thought he’d earned a penalty, and then Zagreb shocked us by putting the ball in the net but was ruled offside.
Wenger then took off Bellerin and Cazorla (for Debuchy and Chambers) with just eight minutes to go. In the dying minutes Alexis did an Ozil-like chip in the box straight to Ozil’s head! He tried a theatrical header but was just not able to get it into the goalmouth.
A convincing win, and hope is still alive that we can go through to the knockout rounds yet again….