Sanchez double against Dinamo Zagreb boosts Arsenal’s Champions League hopes

Alexis Sanchez celebrates his first goal against Dinamo Zagreb

Alexis Sanchez celebrates his first goal against Dinamo Zagreb - Credit: Archant

Arsenal 3 Dinamo Zagreb 0

Alexis Sanchez struck a brace to keep Arsenal’s Champions League hopes alive with a comfortable win over Zagreb at the Emirates.

Sanchez set up the opener for Mesut Ozil and then made it 2-0 soon afterwards, adding a third goal in the second half to ensure that his side retained their hopes of qualifying for the last 16.

The Gunners will need a two-goal victory when they go to Olympiacos next month to dislodge the Greek side – who were thrashed by Bayern Munich – from second place in Group F.

Arsenal began brightly, creating a handful of half-chances and Joel Campbell sprinted clear to set up Santi Cazorla, who skied the chance harmlessly towards the goalkeeper.

Olivier Giroud also had a couple of opportunities, heading over at the near post and then failing to connect with what was admittedly an ambitious scissor-kick attempt from Nacho Monreal’s cross.

But the Gunners remained patient and took the lead just before the half-hour mark on the counter-attack when Sanchez found space and clipped in a cross that Ozil stooped to head home.

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And the home side doubled their advantage just four minutes later as Monreal won possession, darted into the Zagreb penalty area and teed up Sanchez to steer past Eduardo from close range.

Ozil might have inflicted further damage before half-time, bursting through to force a save from Eduardo despite having his shirt pulled by Goncalo Santos.

Cazorla, with a well-struck drive, and Giroud, with a close-range header, were both denied by the keeper at the start of the second half, while Joel Campbell lashed a volley wide.

At the other end, Alexandru Matel belatedly woke Petr Cech from his slumbers as he turned Hector Bellerin and sent a shot fizzing across goal and behind.

But a comeback by the Croatians never looked remotely likely – even more so after Sanchez made it 3-0 with 20 minutes to go, collecting Campbell’s clever pass and rounding the keeper.

Sanchez felt he should have won a penalty when he skipped through again and appeared to be felled by Jeremy Taravel, but referee Viktor Kassai waved play on.

Arsenal’s clean sheet never looked in any danger, except when Laurent Kosicelny’s clearance rebounded off Mathieu Flamini, but Cech’s quick reactions prevented the own goal.

And Ozil almost added further gloss to the scoreline late on when he ran on to Sanchez’s deft chip and flicked a header beyond Eduardo, but wide of the post.

Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin (Debuchy 82), Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Flamini, Cazorla (Chambers 82); Campbell, Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud (Ramsey 68).

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