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Ludogorets 2-3 Arsenal, report: Özil sends Gunners to knockouts

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Arsenal went 2-0 down, but then came back to win.

Arsenal FC v PFC Ludogorets Razgrad - UEFA Champions League Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Arsenal have qualified into the knockout stage of the Champions League, and have a good chance of winning the group after beating Ludogorets 3-2 in Sofia, with the Gunners coming back from a 2-0 deficit.

Despite going down by two goals within the first 20 minutes, Arsenal started brightly. Aaron Ramsey’s attempted bicycle kick was well wide, but Mesut Özil had an excellent chance to score as he was played in by Francis Coquelin with just the keeper to beat. Not wanting to give Coquelin the satisfaction of getting an assist, Özil hit his shot tamely at the keeper.

Then, Arsenal self-imploded. Kieran Gibbs committed handball, and the resulting free kick was floated onto the six-yard line. David Ospina refused to come for the ball, and Jonathan Cafu got behind Arsenal’s defenders—literally, all of them—to tap home. Then it was two. Francis Coquelin did a poor job counterpressing, allowing Ludogorets to hit a long, raking counter attacking pass, Gibbs got beaten one on one, and Claudio Keseru, a former teammate of Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny, got between Koscielny and Mustafi to score.

Arsenal, though, began to play, and quickly grabbed a goal back. Alexis slipped Özil to the byline, and he just kept the ball in before cutting back for the onrushing Granit Xhaka, who slotted a left-footed shot into the corner.

Ludogorets, though, were a threat from set pieces and counter attacks, and Arsenal were forced back. The equaliser, then, came against the run of play at the end of the half, with Aaron Ramsey sending in an excellent cross for Olivier Giroud to head past the on-rushing keeper.

Arsenal lost their discipline on and off the ball in the second half, losing shape in possession and out of possession, committing a lot of unnecessary fouls, and earning several yellow cards. It looked as if Arsenal would end the night with just a point despite an excellent chance for Alexis, fashioned by Xhaka, but then Mesut Özil, collecting a long pass from Mohamed Elneny chipped the keeper, went past the keeper again, and then beat the two defenders on the line to score a superb winning goal and send Arsenal into the round of 16.

Goals:

Cafu 1-0 12’
Keseru 15’
Xhaka 20’
Giroud 42’
Özil 87’