Arsenal claimed a valuable three points as the Gunners reached the half-way mark in their climb to reach the round of 16, defeating Dinamo Zagreb 3-0.
Mesut Ozil put in another Man of the Match performance for Arsenal as the German magician opened the scoring with a close range header before Alexis Sanchez doubled the Gunners' lead five minutes later. Alexis grabbed his second midway though the second half to secure a much deserved 3-0 win.
With Bayern Munich thrashing Olympiacos at the Allianz Arena 4-0, Arsenal now have to beat the Greeks by a margin of two goals to secure a place in the knock-out stages.
An uncomfortable start
Despite a shaky start from the north London outfit, where Dinamo Zagreb threatened the Gunners straight from the kick-off. The hosts started playing to their full potential when Santi Cazorla connected with a cross on the periphery of the six-yard box, but his effort flew over the bar.
As the goals flew in at the Allianz Arena, with Bayern Munich leading Olympiacos by three after only 20 minutes, Arsenal only needed to score to further enhance their chances of advancing from the group stage. However, the Gunners looked lethargic as the attacking force barely tested Eduardo in the Zagreb goal.
Olivier Giroud’s attempt at an acrobatic volley from six-yards out hysterically failed and every cross the Arsenal wingers pumped into the box were easily cleared by Zagreb’s centre-back partnership.
Ozil works his magic to give Arsenal the lead
Finally, in the 28th minut, Arsenal got the priceless goal they needed. Cazorla set up Alexis on the counter attack, the forward broke quickly down the left wing before spotting the German playmaker drifting into the box. The Chilean winger picked out his team-mate with a simple cross and Ozil headed the ball past Eduardo to give Arsenal the lead.
The Premier League side doubled their advantage five minutes later through Alexis Sanchez. Zagreb played the ball around too much inside their penalty box, allowing Nacho Monreal to win the ball off an under pressure defender. The left-back played an easy ball across the face of goal to Alexis, and a tap in saw Arsenal go 2-0 up on the 33 minute mark.
Ozil was close to a second goal when the midfielder ran through the entire Zagreb defence with a mesmerizing run, however his strike from a tight angle was well saved by Eduardo.
Arsenal were now in cruise control as Ozil came close yet again to scoring a second goal with the final chance of the half. Cazorla and Ozil combined beautifully to glide past the Zagreb defence, but Ozil’s finish was well saved by the 'keeper.
The Gunners came out for the second half with similar intensity as Eduardo was forced to make two good saves from Cazorla and Giroud just two minutes after the interval.
The Croatian champions did look threatening for a phase as Junior Fernandes finally took a shot after playing the ball around the penalty area during some promising build up, but Per Mertesacker put in a decent block to fizzle the Zagreb attack away.
Arsenal were the side that dominated the attacking chances, the Gunners almost going 3-0 up after the hour mark after a lightning counter-attack was well tamed by Jeremy Taravel. Aaron Ramsey returned to the Arsenal side in the 67th minute after suffering a hamstring injury in October, side-lining him for numerous weeks.
Alexis makes it three
As Ramsey came on, Alexis all but sealed the game for Arsenal as the winger bagged his second goal of the night in the 69th minute. Joel Campbell smarty played in Alexis with a smart through ball and, beating the offside trap, the Chilean rounded the goalkeeper and placed the ball into an open net to make it three to the good for the FA Cup holders.
The visitors almost had a goal back when Mathieu Flamini interfered with a Per Mertesacker clearance after a goalmouth scramble, but the move was incredibly saved by Petr Cech.
Alexis and Ozil were working like clockwork again as the former chipped the ball into the box for the latter, who flicked the ball over an onrushing Eduardo but his header went inches wide of the post.
Arsenal are now halfway through pulling off an incredible escape from the group. With Bayern beating Olympiacos 5-0, Arsenal must travel to Athens and beat the hosts by a score of two goals.