CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – Group B: Arsenal go top of their group with victory over Olympiakos

Arsenal have produced a 3-1 win over Olympiakos at a rain-soaked Emirates Stadium tonight to go top of Group B in the Champions League.

In the end it was a fairly comfortable victory for the Gunners who were served by goals from Gervinho, Lukas Podolski and Aaron Ramsey whilst the Greek champions levelled through Kostas Mitroglou before conceding two after half-time.

Leonardo Jardim’s Olympiakos side have now been unable to record a single point in 11 attempts on English soil as Arsene Wenger’s men made it two wins from two to sit a couple of points clear of Schalke who were held to a 2-2 draw by Montpellier in Germany.

Arsenal dominated a large majority of the opening half before Olympiakos got on top but just at a very important stage of the match for the home side, Gervinho struck to give them a lead a few minutes from half-time. The Ivorian netted his fifth goal in his last five outings with an angled finish across Olympiakos keeper Balazs Megyeri from just outside the area after the ball deflected into his path.

But the Gunners switched off for a couple of minutes and it came back to bite them as Leandro Greco whipped in a dangerous leftwing cross for Mitroglou to equalise with a brilliant glancing header whilst wedged in between both Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny.

Arsenal looked far more dangerous on the attack early in the second half and it paid dividends when Podolski put them ahead in the 56th minute with a swivelled effort across his body which clattered through the legs of Megyeri. Gervinho set the goal up down the left with a tenacious run before supplying the German who netted his fourth goal for his new club.

The Gunners were far more comfortable in the second half and managed to extend their lead deep into injury-time when substitutes Ramsey and Olivier Giroud combined with the Welshman racing onto his French teammates guided header before beating off Olympiakos skipper Giannis Maniatis and then sending a deft chip over Megyeri to wrap it up.

Earlier, Santi Cazorla’s dipping 12th-minute free-kick from a tight angle forced Megyeri into a vital save before the visitors struck back strongly with Gunners keeper Vito Mannone coming up with a top-class save to deny Mitroglou who was set up by Paulo Machado on the half-hour mark.

Maniatis really should have put Olympiakos ahead when his half-volley from inside the six-yard box somehow went wide of the mark on 35 minutes before Machado pounced on an error from Vermaelen but he could only hit his shot straight at Mannone.

The second half provided more joy for Arsenal as they improved from an attacking sense and Cazorla really should have made the keeper work with his 50th minute effort from well inside the area when Gervinho did well to cut back for him from the left.

Koscielny could have given Arsenal a two-goal lead after the hour-mark when he got on the end of Mikel Arteta’s free-kick from the right but put his unmarked header from close range way over the bar.

Substitute Giroud almost opened his Champions League account late after Ramsey and Cazorla played a neat one-two down the left but the Frenchman’s strong shot bounced off the shoulder of an unsuspecting Dimitrios Siovas as the Gunners eventually cruised to a second win of their European campaign.

2012/13 UEFA Champions League – Group B

Arsenal (ENG): 3 (Gervinho 42’, Lukas Podolski 56’, Aaron Ramsey 90+4’)
Olympiakos (GRE): 1 (Kostas Mitroglou 45’)p>
Emirates Stadium, London, England – 60,034

Yellow cards: ARS - Laurent Koscielny 30’
OLY - Pablo Contreras 62’

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