Arsenal have overcome an awkward start to eventually beat Montpellier 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium tonight.
Second-half goals from Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski – both set up by former Montpellier ace Olivier Giroud – allowed the Gunners to move through to the knockout stage of the Champions League for the 13th straight season.
It was a case of job done for Arsene Wenger’s men as they did enough, particularly in the second half, to overcome Rene Girard’s French champions which sees them remain second on the Group B table after Schalke beat Olympiakos 1-0 in Germany to stay top.
The Arsenal pener came four minutes into the second half when Wilshere contributed his first goal following 17 months out with injury. The talented midfielder got on the end of Giroud’s header from Thomas Vermaelen’s cross to slot home from close range.
The Gunners were starting to look more comfortable on the ball after that and within 15 minutes were two to the good courtesy of a stunning Podolski volley. The German international played a neat one-two with last season’s leading scorer in France, Giroud, before hammering home past Geoffrey Jourdren from 12 yards.
The first half provided little in the way of scoring chances with Arsenal coming close through Laurent Koscielny who was desperately unlucky not to put his side ahead with a header inside ten minutes which cannoned off the crossbar.
Minutes later, Anthony Mounier had a brilliant chance for La Paillade but Gunners gloveman Wojciech Szczesny was quick to react with a vital save with his feet.
That was the only save the Pole had to make as Arsenal produced a solid defensive display before picking up their attacking game in the second 45 minutes.
The result has eased the pressure on Wenger’s men as they can now sit pretty for their final group stage fixture against Olympiakos in Athens on December 4 as group leaders Schalke head to France to meet Montpellier knowing they are already through, however, top spot in the group will certainly be up for grabs.
UEFA Champions League – Group B
Emirates Stadium, London, England – 59,760