Arsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 1

What price for Robin Van Persie just now? Hard to believe that the 28 year old has been at Arsenal since 2004, he almost seems to be an Arsenal institution. After another double strike against Borussia Dortmund at the Emirates that saw the Gunners become the first English side to progress to the Champions League last 16, and already a Gunners legend, Van Persie should have a road or a bridge named after him. After all it is his goal scoring prowess that has propelled the Gunners on both domestic and European fronts. Arsenal finish top of group F and with a game to spare.

Talisman

Van Persie netted five minutes after the break, after some Pele like magic from Alex Song, and added a second on 86 minutes, after a near post flick on from Thomas Vermaelen. Seeing that the game was virtually up, and in a rare moment of Arsenal switching off, Shinji Kagawa netted Dortmund’s consolation goal in time added on, but once again the headlines would all be about Arsenal’s talismanic Dutchman.

Raucous

Roared on by possibly the Emirates most raucous of visiting support, Dortmund set out to stifle the Arsenal style, and to good effect too. Felipe Santana and Mats Hummels were not in any mood to be shifted, even if the latter was lucky not to concede a penalty after his blatant shove on Mikel Arteta. Only a minute had elapsed when Andre Santos crossed for Van Persie ,but his header fell comfortably into the arms of Roman Weidenfeller.

Threat

Midway through the first half, Theo Walcott, raced away from Arteta’s pass, but Weidenfeller came out to block the danger. When Sven Bender went to ground after conceding a free-kick to Vermaelen, it seemed innocuous enough, but Bender’s evening was complete as he was stretchered off with a broken jaw. In between, Robert Lewandowski and Marcel Schmelzer reminded us that Dortmund were a genuine threat. Mario Gotze has been rumoured to be an Arsenal target, but he lasted less than half an hour after picking up what appeared to be a thigh injury.

Venom

Goalless at the break, and Arsene Wenger would have implored his side to be patient. Song had been at the heart on everything good that the Gunners created, and seemed to be everywhere. He broke up Dortmund attacks, tackled with intelligence and venom, and came up with superb wing play to craft Van Persie’s opener. Surrounded by two yellow shirted defenders, Song wriggled one way then another, and then paced himself between their attentions, before delivering a delicious cross for Van Persie to head past the despairing dive of Weidenfeller.

Cutting

Still the Dortmund drummer and their fans continued their singing in English too. But the complexion of the game had swung completely towards the Gunners. Walcott and Gervinho were cutting in from the wings, and when the Ivory Coast striker raced clear, only the defensive cover from Hummels denied another Arsenal goal. Aaron, Ramsey, Arteta, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertersacker were all showing us what team work is all about. Then to huge applause, on came Abou Diaby, and soon after he and the Emirates was applauding
another Van Persie goal.

Confound

Arteta swung in a corner, and in what was almost a back to the future moment, Vermaelen headed on at the near post which confused the Dortmund defence, leaving Van Persie to finish into the open net. Dortmund gave their fans some cheer when Kagawa slotted home in time added on, but any hopes of an unlikely comeback were spent. Arsenal become the first English side to make it into the last 16 of the Champions League. Given the mega spending of Premiership sides elsewhere, not many people would have thought that would be the case, as this Arsenal side continue to confound all their critics. Long may that continue.