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martes, 6 de diciembre de 2016

Basle 1-4 Arsenal: Lucas Perez nets hat-trick. PSG slip up


  • Arsenal forward Lucas Perez opened the scoring after just eight minutes at St-Jakob Park
  • He doubled the scoreline and his tally for the night in the 16th minute with another cool finish
  • Perez's hat-trick goal came within the first two minutes of the second half in Switzerland
  • Alex Iwobi finished off a fine passing move to ensure his side claimed all three points
  • Seydou Doumbia pulled one back for Basle but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation goal 
  • The Gunners secured top spot as French champions drew 2-2 against Ludogorets
  • UEFA Champions League results: Follow all of the action as it happened here.
No-one thought this was possible, but Arsenal - somehow - have finished top of their Champions League group here in Switzerland.
How? Well, they comprehensively completed their job in Basle as Lucas Perez scored a hat-trick to secure a comfortable win in their final Group A game.
Arsenal striker Lucas Perez is given a celebratory hug from fellow summer signing Granit Xhaka after scoring his first goal
Arsenal striker Lucas Perez is given a celebratory hug from fellow summer signing Granit Xhaka after scoring his first goal
The 28-year-old Arsenal man slots the ball into an empty net after Basle's defence failed to clear the ball away from their goal
The 28-year-old Arsenal man slots the ball into an empty net after Basle's defence failed to clear the ball away from their goal
Mesut Ozil (right) rushes to celebrate with Perez following the Spaniard's second goal of the night in Switzerland
Mesut Ozil (right) rushes to celebrate with Perez following the Spaniard's second goal of the night in Switzerland
Kieran Gibbs (centre, pictured with two-goal hero Perez) was given a rare start for Arsenal against Basle
Kieran Gibbs (centre, pictured with two-goal hero Perez) was given a rare start for Arsenal against BasleShare

MATCH FACTS 

ARSENAL (4-2-3-1): Ospina 6; Gabriel 6.5, Holding 7, Koscielny 7, Gibbs 8; Xhaka 7.5, Ramsey 7.5 (Giroud 70, 6); Perez 9, Ozil 8.5 (Walcott 74, 6), Iwobi 7.5; Sanchez 8.5 (Elneny 70, 6) 
Subs not used: Cech, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Monreal, Mustafi
Booked: Gibbs
Wenger - 8
BASEL (4-2-3-1): Vaclik 5; Lang 4, Suchy 5, Balanta 5, Traore 6; T Xhaka 6, Serey Die 5 (Zuffi 74, 5); Elyounoussi 6 (Calla 60, 5), Delgado 5.5 (Doumbia 54, 6.5), Steffen 6.5; Janko 6. Subs: Vailati, Gaber, Zuffi, Bjarnason, Hoegh, Calla, Doumbia. Booked: Balanta
Fischer 6
Ref: Manuel De Sousa (POR) - 6.5
Att:
MOM: Perez 
But the real miracle came 354 miles away in France as Ludogorets grabbed a gusty 2-2 draw against Paris Saint-Germain to see the Gunners leapfrog the French champions into top spot.
For years Arsenal have bemoaned their luck in Europe’s elite club competition.
Tough draws and near misses. On Tuesday night, their fortune had turned full circle.
And credit to Arsene Wenger for making it happen. They say fortune favours the brave.
If that’s true then Wenger was paid in full.
Wenger was bold in his team selection, picking big hitter Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil for a game that, at least before the game, looked a dead rubber.
The Arsenal manager spoke on Monday of maintaining the momentum gathered by two consecutive Premier League wins that have - for now - underlined their championship ambitions.
You couldn’t help that worry, though, that on a freezing cold night there was a risk attached to the duo’s inclusion.
Wenger, however, was much more conservative elsewhere on the pitch as Rob Holding, Lucas Perez and Kieran Gibbs were all given opportunities to stake claims for more first team football.
Wenger knew what would be in store if either of his star attackers picked up injuries on a night when playing them was probably unnecessary. 
Xhaka (left) tries to dispossess his brother Taulant Xhaka as the duo compete for the ball during the first half at St Jakob-Park
Xhaka (left) tries to dispossess his brother Taulant Xhaka as the duo compete for the ball during the first half at St Jakob-Park
Arsenal's Rob Holding, pictured on the ball, started at centre back alongside France international Laurent Koscielny 
Arsenal's Rob Holding, pictured on the ball, started at centre back alongside France international Laurent Koscielny 
The Gunners knew the size of the improbable task ahead of them at St Jakob-Park.
Winning against Basle was the least of their worries; Ludogorets grabbing a historic and unlikely win over group leaders Paris Saint-Germain was the real key to them finishing top of the pool.
Whether finishing first provides a significant advantage ahead of Friday’s draw for the knockout stages is an altogether different argument.
And the Gunners provided a start that was just as bold as Wenger’s decision to select Ozil and Sanchez as they took an eight minute lead.
And who were the orchestrators? No prizes for guessing.
Arsenal were already in the ascendancy as Ozil and Sanchez nonchalantly exchanged passes in the centre circle.
Suddenly Sanchez put his foot down on the accelerator before finding Gibbs with a sumptuous lofted pass.
Credit to Gibbs, who kept his composure to square to Perez who hammered beyond the back-tracking Eder Balanta into an empty net.
Wenger’s gamble had paid off; Arsenal ahead in small part to their dynamic duo.
Arsenal’s joy was nearly short-lived as Basle saw an effort ruled out in the 11th minute, Marc Janko deemed offside after tapping home the rebound fromDavid Ospina’s save from Renato Steffen’s header.
Not that Basle's chance put Arsenal off their stride as they stormed into a two-goal lead in the 16th minute.
Perez hadn’t scored a Champions League goal before, but he notched his second after finishing off a free-flowing Arsenal move involving Sanchez, Ozil and Ramsey before Gibbs, in an identical position to where he set up the first, saw his shot saved by Vaclik to leave his Spanish colleague to tap home.
By now the flood gates had well and truly opened.
Again, the home side mustered a response, Adama Traore firing an audacious shot with the outside of his left boot inches wide of Ospina’s far post.
And as news filtered through to the Arsenal bench about Ludogoret’s opener in Paris, you couldn’t almost sense Wenger’s glee at his Ozil/Sanchez throw of the dice paying off in the most unlikeliest of fashions. 
Arsenal main man Alexis Sanchez (left) dribbles with the ball as he looks to start an attack for the away side
Arsenal main man Alexis Sanchez (left) dribbles with the ball as he looks to start an attack for the away side
David Ospina rushes out of his goal to punch the ball clear as he attempts to clear the danger away from his goal
David Ospina rushes out of his goal to punch the ball clear as he attempts to clear the danger away from his goal
Sanchez and Ozil were certainly in the mood, too. No look passes, reverse through balls - the full repertoire was on show here in Basle.
That’s not to say the Swiss were being embarrassed.
They were threatening but clearly lacked the cutting edge to cause Arsenal’s defence - even without first choice trio Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal - serious problems.
Ospina did well to stop Steffen’s curling left-foot effort in the 40th minute as Basle looked for a route back in.
Basle's keeper, though, wasn’t fairing so well as he gifted Perez his hat-trick just two minutes after the break.
Latching onto Sanchez’s cheeky flick, former Deportivo La Coruna striker Perez fired what looked a tame drive towards the far post only for Vaclik to make an utter hash of his attempted save as Arsenal increased their advantage.
By now the floodgates were well and truly unlocked, Ozil setting up Alex Iwobi to tap home from two yards in the 53rd minute.
As a footnote, Sanchez found Ozil before the German’s killer pass. What a night these two were having.
Arsenal fans would have been questioning Wenger’s decision to play his two aces. Wenger’s players emphatically answered those questions for him.
But the Arsenal manager’s heart was in the mouth in the 66th minute as Sanchez was left in a heap following a meaty challenge from Eder Balanta, that earned the Basle defender a booking.
The Chilean looked in plenty discomfort as he clutched his ankle before picking himself up gingerly.
Wenger quickly ordered Olivier Giroud and Mohamed Elneny to strip; he’d seen enough.
Sanchez hadn’t, though, as he crashed the resultant free-kick onto he underside of the bar before trudging off beaming ear to ear.
There was time for substitute Seydou Doumbia to reduce the deficit in the 78th minute but even that couldn’t wipe the smile off Arsenal faces.
The former Deportivo La Coruna forward keeps his cool to score his fourth goal since joining Arsenal in the summer
The former Deportivo La Coruna forward keeps his cool to score his fourth goal since joining Arsenal in the summer
Alex Iwobi leaps on his Arsenal team-mates as they celebrate Perez's eighth-minute opener on Tuesday evening
Alex Iwobi leaps on his Arsenal team-mates as they celebrate Perez's eighth-minute opener on Tuesday evening
Arsenal's players were all smiles as they made a fast start to their final Group A Champions League match 
Arsenal's players were all smiles as they made a fast start to their final Group A Champions League match 
Perez (left) celebrates his second goal with Sanchez and Gibbs as he aims to impress his watching manager Arsene Wenger
Perez (left) celebrates his second goal with Sanchez and Gibbs as he aims to impress his watching manager Arsene Wenger
Perez slots the ball past Basle goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik as he makes it 2-0 with just 16 minutes on the clock
Perez slots the ball past Basle goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik as he makes it 2-0 with just 16 minutes on the clock
Vaclik fails to keep out Perez's driven shot as the Spaniard nets his hat-trick goal to cap off a superb night for Arsenal
Vaclik fails to keep out Perez's driven shot as the Spaniard nets his hat-trick goal to cap off a superb night for Arsenal
Perez puts his hand in the air following his 47th-minute strike as he salutes his fans and his team-mates
Perez puts his hand in the air following his 47th-minute strike as he salutes his fans and his team-mates
Gabriel (right) and Mohamed Elyounoussi compete for the ball in the air as they do battle in the first half of the Group A match
Gabriel (right) and Mohamed Elyounoussi compete for the ball in the air as they do battle in the first half of the Group A match
Arsenal and Basle players observe a minute's silence in remembrance of 71 people who died in the Chapecoense air crash
Arsenal and Basle players observe a minute's silence in remembrance of 71 people who died in the Chapecoense air crash
Arsene Wenger, pictured before his side's comfortable, will have been pleased with his side's display in Switzerland
Arsene Wenger, pictured before his side's comfortable, will have been pleased with his side's display in Switzerland
Wenger greets Sanchez as the Chile international is replaced by Mohamed Elneny with 20 minutes left on the clock
Wenger greets Sanchez as the Chile international is replaced by Mohamed Elneny with 20 minutes left on the clock
Sanchez's free-kick hit the woodwork shortly before he replaced as he was rested ahead of Arsenal's next league match
Sanchez's free-kick hit the woodwork shortly before he replaced as he was rested ahead of Arsenal's next league match
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