Wenger aims to top Champions League group after Arsenal fight back to beat Ludogorets

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Arsene Wenger praised Arsenal’s consistency after they recovered from an early two-goal deficit to beat Ludogorets 3-2 and clinch a place in the Champions League knockout stages.

Jonathan Cafu and Claudiu Keseru put the Bulgarian side 2-0 up inside the first 15 minutes of Tuesday’s Group A tie before the visitors struck back through Granit Xhaka and Olivier Giroud.

A stunning late winner from Mesut Ozil then sealed all three points for the Gunners and ensured that they qualified for the last 16 of the competition.

Wenger’s side have never failed to reach that stage of the tournament since 2000 – although, at the same time, they have progressed no further in the last six seasons.

The first of their two remaining group fixtures, against fellow qualifiers Paris St Germain at Emirates Stadium later this month, is likely to decide who finishes top of the group and thereby avoids any of the other top-ranked sides in the draw.

“I believe that the most difficult thing in life is to be consistent at the top level,” said the Arsenal boss. “So it shows we have been quite consistent there.

“Hopefully we can go further now. We have a game at home where we can finish top of the group. Let’s maintain the quality of our results until the game against Paris St Germain. We are in a position to finish top of the group.

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“You get belief with positive results, and this shows a healthy mentality in the group. The two together come out in these kind of games.”

Arsenal made a slow start at the Vasil Levski National Stadium and Wenger admitted his side had been “caught cold” by the home side before Xhaka halved the deficit with his first Champions League goal. Giroud then marked his return to the starting line-up by making it 2-2 with a header, and Ozil’s stylish winner three minutes from time sent the Gunners through to the last 16.

Midfielder Aaron Ramsey – who also returned to the side against the Bulgarians after injury – said: “It was difficult after we went 2-0 down but we showed great character and belief to come back into the game.

“I’m delighted to be back. That was what I needed – to start a game and get those minutes under my belt. My target is to just stay fit and play as much as I can.

“We’re on a strong run at the moment and we’re looking forward to the north London derby on Sunday.

“It was important to keep the momentum going and we’re in good shape going into that game. Hopefully we can come away with a win there as well.”