Football: Arsenal victory keeps their Champions League hopes alive

Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring the second goal for Arsenal.
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring the second goal for Arsenal.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Arsenal kept alive their hopes of reaching the Champions League last 16 for a 16th straight season when they beat Dinamo Zagreb 3-0 while Bayern Munich did them a favour by thrashing Olympiakos Piraeus in Group F on Tuesday.

Arsenal ripped Dinamo apart in the first half, taking a grip with two goals in four minutes from Mesut Ozil in the 29th and Alexis Sanchez who scored in the 33rd before adding a third in the 69th.

The results mean that while Bayern are through to the knockout round, Arsenal, whose chances looked slim after defeats by Dinamo, Olympiakos and Bayern, will join them if they beat Olympiakos by two clear goals in Greece on Dec. 9.

Bayern have 12 points, after winning 4-0 against Olympiakos, who have nine, Arsenal are on six and Dinamo have three. If Olympiakos win, draw or lose to Arsenal, but concede fewer than three goals, they will go through instead.

Dinamo are eliminated and will finish bottom.

Before the match Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he believed his side still had a "strong chance" of qualifying and, although winning in Greece by two goals is no foregone conclusion, at least they have their fate in their own hands.

Dinamo dented Arsenal's Champions League campaign on Matchday One when they beat them 2-1 in Zagreb, but there was never any suggestion the visitors would do the same again as Arsenal cut them to ribbons in the first half.

There was nervous apprehension from the home fans on a chilly night but, after Arsenal weathered early pressure when the visitors forced three corners in the first seven minutes, they took control with excellent quick-passing football.

Ozil, Sanchez and Santi Cazorla were totally dominant in midfield and the Germany midfielder made the breakthrough when he scored with a stooped header after Sanchez had run more than 50 metres with the ball after an Arsenal break.

Sanchez scored the second after poor defending from Leonardo Sigali, whose weak clearance from inside his area was intercepted by Nacho Monreal who set up Sanchez for a tap-in.

The second half followed much the same pattern and, although Dinamo weaved some nice moves in midfield, they hardly created a chance to trouble Arsenal keeper Petr Cech.

At the other end, Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and the excellent Joel Campbell kept Eduardo busy in the visitors' goal, with Sanchez netting the third by rounding the keeper to finish the job.