Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admits he is shocked that his side are only English side to reach the last 16 of the Champions League thus far.
“I am surprised that we are the first English team to qualify,” Wenger said.
“When we drew Udinese in the qualifier, you couldn’t bet exactly that we would go through like we have done so overall I am happy.”
Arsenal overcame a stubborn Dortmund outfit at the Emirates to clinch a berth in the Champions League knockout stages. The German side were industrious if unspectacular and dominated the first half but it was the loss of teenage sensation Mario Goetze through injury in the 30th minute which handed the advantage to Wenger’s outfit.
Robin Van Persie opened the scoring in the 49th minute with a downward header at the far post which Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller just failed to keep out. Cameroonian midfielder Alex Song deserves credit in skipping by two Dortmund players and curling a wonderfully weighted cross onto the head of the unflappable Van Persie. The Flying Dutchman added his and Arsenal’s second in the 86th minute with an easy finish, following a Thomas Vermaelen flick on from a Mikel Arteta corner, securing knockout stage football for the Gunner’s faithful. Van Persie has now plundered 33 goals in his last 30 games for Arsenal.
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa netted a consolation for the Germans with a neat side-footed effort, having been handed the easiest of chances by team mate Robert Lewandowski, but their challenge had long since petered out.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will be delighted with his side’s progression. His leaky defence were spared the blistering pace and mercurial trickery of the vaunted Goetze here, and coupled with the loss of influential midfielder Sven Bender after 24 minutes; Jurgen Klopp may feel a tad disillusioned with the evening’s events.
Onwards and upwards for Wenger’s men with a tantalising and potentially favourable second round tie in store, a place in the Europa League is likely the best a spirited Dortmund side can hope for.
ARSENAL’S KNOCKOUT RUN
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