Champions League: Arsenal hold nerve to reach last 16
Goals from Yaya Sanogo and Alexis Sanchez ensured Arsenal a spot into the last 16 of Europe's elite league.
LONDON/MADRID/SOFIA - Arsenal held their nerve, their lead and their record of reaching the Champions League knockout stages when they beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 on Wednesday to reach the last 16 for the 15th season in a row.
Three weeks after collapsing to a 3-3 draw with Anderlecht at the Emirates Stadium after holding a 3-0 lead, Arsenal went ahead in the second minute through Yaya Sanogo and made it 2-0 after 57 minutes through Alexis Sanchez.
This time, though, a similar self-inflicted implosion never looked likely.
Arsenal looked far more assured than they have done recently following two successive Premier League defeats and they inflicted a first Champions League defeat on Dortmund, who stay top of the group with a game to play.
Arsenal can still finish top if they win their last match at Galatasaray and Dortmund lose to Anderlecht, who, like Galatasaray are eliminated.
Their main objective, though, was to seal a place in the last 16.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, unsurprisingly, was a much happier man than after the Anderlecht collapse.
MANDZUKIC ON FIRE
A fired-up Atletico Madrid swept into the last 16 with a game to spare when Mario Mandzukic netted a hat-trick in a crushing 4-0 win at home to Olympiakos Piraeus in Group A clash.
Last season's beaten finalists secured a fourth straight victory since falling 3-2 to the Greek side in their opening game in September and have 12 points from five matches, three ahead of second-placed Juventus, who won 2-0 at Malmo.
After a typically intense start from the Spanish champions, Raul Garcia struck in the ninth minute following a howler from Olympiakos goalkeeper Roberto and another defensive error, this time from Roberto's Spanish compatriot Alberto Botia, let in Mandzukic to tap home seven minutes before the break.
The Croatia forward made it 3-0 in the 62nd minute when he nodded in an Arda Turan cross and he completed his treble with another header from Gabi's free kick three minutes later as Atletico progressed from the group stage of Europe's elite competition in two consecutive seasons for the first time.
MISFIRING LIVERPOOL KEEP HOPES ALIVE
A late header from defender Georgi Terziev earned Ludogorets a 2-2 draw with an unimpressive Liverpool that left the English side facing a winner-takes-all final match with FC Basel.
Ludogorets went ahead in the third minute when Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet failed to deal with an awkward bounce following Marcelinho's long-range effort and Dani Abalo was on hand to tap in from close range.
Liverpool levelled five minutes later when Rickie Lambert netted a header from close range following farcical defending by Romania centre back Cosmin Moti.
Jordan Henderson made it 2-1 eight minutes before the break, making no mistake at the back post from Raheem Sterling's precise left-wing cross.
Yet the home side refused to surrender and Terziev headed home with four minutes remaining.
Liverpool, who were beaten and failed to score in their previous three games in Group B, kept alive their hopes of advancing to the Champions League knockout stage.
The Reds are third in the standings on four points, two behind Basel, and need to beat the Swiss side at Anfield in the final round of Group B matches to secure a last-16 spot.
Ludogorets visit runaway leaders Real Madrid in their final match.
Atletico Madrid 4-0 Olympiakos
Malmö FF 0-2 Juventus
FC Basel 0-1 Real Madrid
Ludogorets 2-2 Liverpool
Zenit St. Petersberg 1-0 Benfica
Bayer Leverkusen 0-1 Monaco
Arsenal 2-0 Borrusia Dortmund
Anderlecht 2-0 Galatasaray