With Dortmund already through to the Champions League knockout stage, it was a night that Arsenal needed to capitalize on if they too were to join the Germans in making it out of Group D. And capitalize they did, comprehensively beating Dortmund 2-0 to send Arsenal through to the Knockout Stage for the 11th consecutive season.
Controversy has surrounded Arsene Wenger of late and today was no different, choosing to start 21-year-old Yaya Sanogo up front. But this time around the French manager got it right as the French striker fired home 73 seconds into the match. It was a brilliant piece of skill as Sanogo exchanged passes with Santi Cazorla before calmly slotting through the legs of Roman Weidenfeller for his first European goal.
With Santi Cazorla, Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain full of energy and ideas, the Gunners oozed confidence. But boosted by 4,000 traveling supporters, Dortmund settled in after the early goal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan causing trouble on a number of occasions. After a linkup with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came close but was knocked away by Kieran Gibbs, the Armenian fired over the bar just two minutes later and directly at third-choice keeper Emiliano Martinez only a minute later.
Dominating parts of the match through possession, Arsenal also were quick off the counter-attack and in the 56th minute, the tactical expansion nearly paid off. After nipping Dortmund of possession around midfield, a looped clearance found Oxlade Chamberlain, who brought the ball down and fired square onto the bar from 30 yards out.
With the crowd amped, Arsenal continued to pour forward and a minute later they found Sanchez on the left side of the pitch. Lukasz Piszczek showed the Chilean inside and Sanchez cleverly touched right before hooking a low dipping shot to the far post that skipped under the arms of diving Weidenfeller. The goal brought Sanchez’ goal tally to three in the Champions League and 13 on the season.
Comfortable in the lead, Arsenal backed in and Dortmund took advantage as Ilkay Gundogan found Kevin Grosskreutz only for his ball across the goal-mouth to go untouched. As time wound down, Gundogan was at it again taking touches outside the box to create space and shoot only for Martinez to collect. Arsenal bent but did not break and just before time Martinez ensured his clean sheet with an impressive save on a turn and shot by Adrian Ramos.