Arsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 1: Gunners through as group winners

Robin van Persie scored twice as Arsenal secured top spot in Group F with a win over Borussia Dortmund at The Emirates

Champions League, 23 November 2011, Emirates Stadium
team1
Arsenal
2 - 1
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B. Dortmund

Robin van Persie struck twice in the second half as Arsenal booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League as group winners with victory over Borussia Dortmund.

A battling first-half display from the visitors had largely kept the Gunners quiet before the Dutchman continued his imperious goalscoring form after the break, nodding in Alex Song’s cross and smashing home from a corner late on.

Shinji Kagawa pulled a goal back for the Bundesliga outfit deep into second-half stoppage time but it was not enough to prevent Arsène Wenger’s men from sealing top spot in Group F with a game to spare.

Dortmund knew they had to win at The Emirates to stay in the competition and it was the Bundesliga side that started the brighter, pressing high up the pitch and preventing Arsenal from settling into their usual passing rhythm.

But neither side were able to carve any real opportunity of note for most of the first half. Theo Walcott stroked the ball into the back of the net in the 40th minute after being played in by Van Persie – but the Arsenal winger was adjudged to be just offside.

Van Persie then went close to putting the Gunners ahead after Walcott almost found him with a deliciously inviting cross from the right, but Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller managed to get a touch to prevent it from reaching the prolific Dutchman.

The visiting side should have taken the lead early in the second half, but Kagawa shot straight at Wojciech Szczesny in the 48th minute.

And the Gunners broke the deadlock a minute later through Van Persie.

On a night in which Arsenal’s forward line had failed to shine, the Gunners found an unlikely creative architect in the form of Song. The midfielder brilliantly danced past two Dortmund defenders and floated a perfect cross to the far post for Van Persie to nod past Weidenfeller.

Gervinho should have doubled the Gunners’ lead in the 60th minute after being played through on goal by Aaron Ramsey, but the Ivorian took too long in his attempt to round Weidenfeller and was eventually dispossessed.

However, Van Persie soon made amends for his team-mate’s indecision in front of goal when he lashed home from a corner after a flick-on by Vermaelen.

The visitors pulled a goal back deep into stoppage time after a mix-up between Song and Johan Djourou allowed Kagawa to fire past Szczesny from close range.

But the referee blew his whistle almost immediately after the re-start to confirm the Gunners’ place in the last 16 as group winners.

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger said:

“Overall it was a good game, Dortmund are a good team. They started stronger than we did but we needed to be patient, intelligent and I think in the second half we increased the tempo of our passing and controlled the game. Slowly you could feel that we could make the difference. Robin van Persie is always in the right place at the right moment and he got two goals again tonight from positions that look easy but they are not. He just understands the game so well.”

Arsenal: Wojciech Szczesny, Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny (Johan Djourou, 83), André Santos, Per Mertesacker, Mikel Arteta, Alexandre Song, Theo Walcott (Abou Diaby, 85), Aaron Ramsey, Gervinho (Yossi Benayoun, 74), Robin van Persie.

Borussia Dortmund: Roman Weidenfeller, Mats Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer, Felipe Santana, Lukasz Piszczek, Sven Bender (Moritz Leitner, 25), Mario Götze (Ivan Perisic, 29), Shinji Kagawa, Sebastian Kehl (Lucas Barrios, 64), Kevin Großkreutz, Robert Lewandowski

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