Football

Arsenal ease into last-16 with comfortable Montpellier victory

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Arsenal confirmed their place in the Champions League last-16 after a comfortable 2-0 victory over Montpellier at the Emirates Stadium.

Second-half goals from Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski, earned Arsene Wenger's side all three points, with Group B leaders Schalke defeating Olympiacos to send the Gunners through to the knockout stages.

It wasn't all plain-sailing for the hosts, though, following a lacklustre first-half display against their Ligue 1 opponents, who remain bottom of the group with just a solitary point from five games in their debut season in the competition.

Laurent Koscielny crashed a header against the bar with Arsenal's first real chance of the game on 12 minutes, after two consecutive corners. But, aside from that, the Premier League side failed to find their usual free-flowing football groove, with Wilshere in particular, guilty of a number of misplaced passes.

Santi Cazorla was at his creative best, but even he struggled to break down a resolute Montpellier side, that set up in a defensive formation and looked to counter-attack on the break.

However, Arsenal's first-half troubles were soon forgotten when three minutes after the restart Wilshere made up for an indifferent start, netting his first goal since November 2010, with a neat chip over Montpellier goalkeeper Laurent Pionnier.

Thomas Vermaelen delivered the cross from the left corner of the box, which was nodded down by Olivier Giroud for the 20-year-old to dink home, sending the Emirates faithful into raptures.

The goal gave Arsenal the impetus to drive on, and on the hour mark they doubled their lead when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's direct run forward caught out the Montpellier defence.

He cut inside and played to Podolski, who knocked the ball on to Giroud, and with one touch the Frenchman added his second assist, chipping back to the German, who unleased a fierce volley into the roof of the net.

In the closing stages Cazorla and Giroud - Arsenal's key performers on the night - came off to a standing ovation. Wenger will have them both to thank for leading the team into the next round for the 13th consecutive season.

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Topics:
Arsenal
Football
UEFA Champions League

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