Olympiakos 0-3 Arsenal: Olivier Giroud nets first Gunners hat-trick to fire north Londoners into Champions League last 16
Olivier Giroud 1 Olivier Giroud netted his first Arsenal hat-trick in Greece as Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Olympiakos booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.In the absence of key men Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla, the likes of Giroud and Joel Campbell stepped up to the occasion at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium.Campbell looked lively, providing dangerous chances for his team-mates, while the 29-year-old took his chances, opening the scoring with a first-half header and adding a second early in the second period before completing his trio with a coolly-taken penalty.It was another big evening for the English clubs in Europe, as both Arsenal and Chelsea needed to secure their places in the last 16, to avoid joining Man United, Tottenham and Liverpool in the Europa League.A win for Arsenal would have put them level on points with second-placed Olympiakos and it would be decided on head-to-head. The Greek side won 3-2 at the Emirates and the north Londoners had to match that scoreline or to win by two goals.Arsene Wenger was visibly nervous on the touchline and the hosts had the better opening quarter of an hour. If any team looked more likely to take the lead, it was the Greeks.The Arsenal defence was tested as former West Brom forward Brown Ideye broke in behind the Gunners’ defence, squaring across goal past Petr Cech but Laurent Koscielny made a vital clearance.Mathieu Flamini nearly gave Arsenal the lead as Campbell crossed and the midfielder charged into the box to rattle the crossbar from ten yards.The Premier League side were halfway there when they took the lead shortly before the half hour, as Ramsey crossed from the left and French forward Giroud diverted a header towards goal. Shot-stopper Roberto reached out an arm but it hit his back and rolled into the back of the net.Arsenal needed to press for another in the second half to book their place in the next stages of the competition and Theo Walcott went close as he dragged a 20-yard shot past the post.That second goal came just four minutes into the second period as Costa Rican forward Campbell took the ball down in the box. He turned away from one man, showed great feet to beat another while running away from goal, before sliding the ball through to Giroud, who finished neatly across goal into the bottom corner.That meant Arsenal would take second spot in the group ahead of Olympiakos. The next goal would be vital as a strike for the Greek side would have put them back on top.Cech made a vital save shortly after Arsenal’s second. Konstantinos Fortounis’s left-footed curling effort towards the top corner was parried past the post by the sprawling Czech Republic glovesman.A controversial call in the 67th minute allowed Arsenal to take the advantage as the referee awarded a penalty. Omar Elabdellaoui handled in the area, it looked harsh but Giroud made no mistake as he coolly sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to fire home.That goal meant Arsenal needed to see out the game in order to book their place in the last 16, behind group winners Bayern Munich.They gave themselves an uphill task on the night, but Giroud and Arsenal lived up to expectation to make it a memorable night for the travelling Gunners supporters.Elsewhere in Group F, Bayern Munich were 2-0 winners at Dinamo Zagreb.