Arsenal Qualify For Champions League Knockout Stage As Chelsea Lose Again
Arsenal have become the first and only team to qualify for the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League this season after a 2-1 Emirates win against Borussia Dortmund saw them secure top spot in Group F.
Even on home turf the Gunners were made to work hard for their win against an organised Dortmund side who showed no shortage of attacking onus themselves, but in the end their in-form striker Robin Van Persie again proved the difference.
The mercurial Dutchman chipped in with two poacher’s goals in the second half, the first a deft header following Alex Song’s wonderful assist and the second a clinical strike at the far post after Thomas Vermaelen flicked on Mikel Arteta’s corner.
Shinji Kagawa pulled one back for the visitors with virtually the last kick of the game, but it was too little too late for Dortmund who will now have to beat Marseille at the Signal Iduna Park to ensure that they progress to the round of 16 as runners-up.
Arsenal’s cross-London rivals Chelsea did not fare quite so well against German opposition, however, as their trip to Bayer Leverkusen ended in agony after a stoppage-time winner for Manuel Friedrich condemned them to a 2-1 defeat.
Didier Drogba initially gave the visitors a deserved lead at the start of the second half by showing great strength and composure to turn in Daniel Sturridge’s excellent pass, but they were pegged back when substitute Erin Derdiyok scored with his first touch.
The Blues did look to be on course to hold on for a vital point, but they were left thunderstruck as some errant marking for a Leverkusen corner allowed Friedrich to power home past the despairing Petr Cech to complete the host’s last-gasp comeback.
With a Roberto Soldado-inspired Valencia putting seven past lowly Genk in Group E’s other game, Chelsea will most likely have to beat the Spaniards at Stamford Bridge in the final game to progress, though a 0-0 draw would also see them through.