Wednesday, December 9, 2015 11:07 pm
Arsenal stunned Greek club Olympiacos in picking the second ticket in Group F for the UEFA Group of 16, beating the Greek giants on their turf by 3-0, more than the margin they were looking for.
It was a night of miracle, a night the London club silenced critics and cynics who believed they were condemned to Europa League, lying third on the table, behind Bayern Munich and Olympiacos.
Arsenal said they needed a two-goal margin of victory to qualify, but they got a three-goal haul, thanks to the hat trick by French striker Olivier Giroud and the team behind him that played like all their lives depended on the game at Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis – Piraeus.
The France striker chose the perfect time to score his first Arsenal treble, converting Aaron Ramsey’s cross with a firm header, applying a calm finish from the impressive Joel Campbell’s through-ball and slotting in a penalty after Nacho Monreal’s shot was handled.
Giroud’s second gave the Gunners the two-goal cushion they craved and the third sucked the life out of Olympiacos, leaving the Greek champions needing three goals to deny Arsenal a place in the last 16.
They never looked capable of it and so Arsène Wenger’s team march on in Europe, qualifying from their group for the 16th consecutive season.
*with additional report by Chris Harris/in Athens