Giroud hat-trick helps Arsenal progress in Olympiakos rout
Lee Gormley | December 9, 2015
Olympiakos 0-3 Arsenal
- Arsenal progressed to Champions League knockout stage with 3-0 win
- Olivier Giroud opened scoring in the first-half with trademark header
- The France striker added a second instantly in second period
- Arsenal’s in-form marksman completed hat-trick after the hour mark
Travelling Arsenal secure progress
Arsenal progressed to the Champions League knockout stage for a 16th consecutive campaign with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Greek champions Olympiakos, as France striker Olivier Giroud slotted home a clinical European hat-trick.
Arsene Wenger’s Gunners entered the crucial Group F clash knowing they had to win by two goals or more, but their in-form frontman netted on either side of the break and tucked away a second-half penalty to secure away success and progression.
Before their routine triumph at the Karaiskakis Stadium, the visiting Londoners had endured three successive losses to Olympiakos, all on matchday six in Europe’s elite club competition, though they avoided a further Greek tragedy this time around.
The hosts had to withstand early pressure from the Gunners as Theo Walcott looked to get in behind from a Mesut Ozil through-ball, with Wales international midfielder Aaron Ramsey bursting forward into the space left from his teammate’s runs, but nothing developed from the move.
Nervous Arsenal start
Travelling Arsenal fans were given a moment to panic about with only nine minutes played in Greece, as home playmaker Kostas Fortounis went down under an incoming Walcott challenge and appealed for a penalty, though the Olympiakos number seven was cautioned for a blatant dive.
Minutes later it was former West Bromwich Albion striker Brown Ideye who found himself in a dangerous position in front of Petr Cech, as he dragged the ball in from wide left and saw his low-driven cross cleared away by Laurent Koscielny.
Wenger’s Londoners were enduring a nervy first-half, with experienced shot stopper Cech, the only Champions League winner within the Gunners squad, even suffering from some jitters, after almost gifting the hosts with a clear opportunity from a poor clearance.
Arsenal were in search of a two-goal margin of victory in order to progress from Group F, but it was the Athens outfit that continued to look more threatening, with Colombian Felipe Pardo a constant danger to Per Mertesacker and Hector Bellerin from the left flank.
Giroud gifts Gunners opener
After being pegged back from the start by an onslaught of Olympiakos attacks, the visitors almost grabbed an opener against the run of play, but Mathieu Flamini could only strike the crossbar from close-range off a Joel Campbell delivery.
Another swift move from the opposite wing then led to Arsenal taking the lead on 29 minutes through a Giroud header, as the France targetman beat a diving Roberto Jiminez Gago following a pinpoint cross from Ramsey, who had linked up well with Ozil.
The goal seemed to settle a previously stuttering Gunners side, as they became more composed in possession, but French defender Koscielny was on hand to keep proceedings as they were at half-time with a last-ditch block on an Ideye effort.
Frenchman strikes again
In the second period the Gunners made a much brighter start, with sublime individual control and a defence-splitting pass from Campbell teeing Giroud up perfectly to dispatch his second and further Arsenal’s lead in Greece.
Brazilian wingman Seba become frustrated on the right flank for Olympiakos, as central anchormen Luka Milivojevic and Pajtim Kasami failed to have an impact through the middle against an Arsenal side who are 5/2 to lift the Premier League title this term.
Walcott was gifted with a superb chance to secure his side’s third goal of the night in the Olympiakos penalty area, but the England wideman could only direct his attempt wide of the mark.
No Greek revival in Athens
It wasn’t to matter though as in-form Frenchman Giroud clinically dispatched a penalty after an hour played to complete his hat-trick, after Nacho Monreal’s cross had struck Norwegian defender Omar Elabdellaoui’s hand in the box.
The home crowd had been almost deafening beforehand, but Giroud’s treble silenced Olympiakos’ previously rapturous support as they knew three goals were required at this point to pip Arsenal to progression from a tight group.
No such miraculous recovery was found in the dying minutes though, as Wenger’s battling Gunners reached the Champions League knockout stage for a 16th successive season.
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