Arsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0
( Sanogo 2, Sanchez 57)

This confident and assured victory over Borussia Dortmund, courtesy of goals from Yaya Sanogo, for his first Gunners’ strike, and Alexis Sanchez, saw Arsenal into the knockout stages of the Champions League for the 15th successive season. It also came as a much-needed response by Arsene Wenger’s men to recent results. Arsenal came into this match knowing a point against Borussia Dortmund would see them into the next round of the competition. They left with a victory over the Group D leaders, and will go into the final matchday, away to Galatasaray on 9 December, hopeful that they could steal top spot from Jurgen Klopp’s team. The Gunners’ could yet top the group with a win over Galatasaray in Istanbul, coupled with Dortmund losing to Anderlecht in the final round of matches.

“This team has a great attitude and we were united in the game, determined and committed,” said Wenger after the match.

“We were highly focused to defend well together from the first to the last minute and we were very good as a team,” he continued.

In truth, Arsenal were always going to have the upper hand. Their opponents had already guaranteed themselves of a place in the final 16, and with their thoughts fixed firmly on rescuing what has been thus far a disastrous Bundesliga campaign, Wenger’s men knew the win would be theirs if they remained professional and focused.

Arsenal began the match superbly. Sanogo, a real force on the evening was controversially given a start ahead of Podolski and duly responded by putting his side ahead with less than two minutes of the match played. From the moment that the young Arsenal striker gave his side the lead, the Gunners dominated their opponents. There was no letting up in a first half in which Arsenal could have easily taken the win by the interval.

Sanogo’s goal, his first for the club, was wonderfully crafted. Arsenal won a throw-in deep into their opponents’ half of the pitch. Sanogo held off his marker before taking the ball under his control. He spotted Cazorla in the penalty area, who he found with the ball, before storming goalwards, where he was found with a return pass by his team-mate. Roman Weidenfeller came out to block the danger, but Sanogo forced the ball between the legs of the Dortmund goalkeeper. It was a wonderful moment of opportunism from a striker who has shown his raw qualities whenever his has been given his chance.

“He has presence, character and he’s naturally committed,” said Wenger of his young striker. “That’s important to have up front.” Sanogo however, hobbled off with a hamstring injury in the second half.

He was not the only injury problem on the evening. Wenger revealed that captain Mikael Arteta will also be out for a while with a calf injury picked up in the match.

As the half wore on, Arsenal’s players began to dominate their visitors, who never really recovered from that early blow. What was particularly pleasing was the approach play demonstrated by Wenger’s men, who were clearly on the hunt for more goals against a nervy-looking Dortmund back-line. When Arsenal’s players moved the ball forward, they did so with authority.

The second goal still wasn’t forthcoming, but the German side were unable to capitalise and apply any pressure on Arsenal’s defence. When they did finally create a chance, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez reacted well when he was called into action late on in the first half. It was Dortmund’s created their only noteworthy goal-scoring opportunity. Henrikh Mkhitaryan had the chance, but Martinez blocked the goalbound shot with his feet.

Arsenal began the second half positively, and the Gunners almost found themselves further ahead when, on 54 minutes, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struck the crossbar with a dipping volley that flew over Weidenfeller but onto the woodwork.

Gunners’ fans, however, did not have to wait long for the second goal, which came from Alexis two minutes later. Cazorla created the opportunity with a sweeping pass to his team-mate. The Chilean striker cut inside his marker, composed himself, before firing an unstoppable curling shot beyond Weidenfeller from outside the penalty area. It was enough to seal the victory, and left Wenger pleased following some uneven performances in the league, and ahead of the trip to West Bromwich Albion this weekend.

“Maybe we were defensively better tonight,” he added. “We are a team that likes to go forward – sometimes we feel dominate the game and we maybe forget to take precautions to defend. We did that better tonight.”