Van Persie pounces as Arsenal progress

 

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No other team has proved quite so dysfunctional as Arsenal have in the darkest hours of their season so far but last night they reminded the rest of the Premier League's elite how best to navigate the Champions League by winning their group with a game to spare.

The defeat for Marseilles at home to Olympiakos last night, the other Group F game, means that Arsène Wenger's side are through with a game to spare. And no prizes for guessing who came up trumps for Arsenal last night.

Robin van Persie (above) scored both goals which takes his total for the year to 38 in 41 matches.

The late goal for Shinji Kagawa was a classic Arsenal snooze that came so late it never threatened to undo the good work they had done in the second half.

There has been a distinct lack of urgency among England's Champions League contenders this week. Last night Arsenal were no different. They were slow to start and lacking in inspiration. That came from the German team in the early stages who were undermined by the loss of two of their bright young players within the first half an hour. The first to go was Sven Bender, who hurt his jaw in a collision with Thomas Vermaelen and departed on a stretcher. Then Mario Götze signalled that he was no longer able to carry on.

Dortmund also came out the stronger after the break and unzipped Arsenal's defence. It was Kagawa who ran onto the final throughball and he might have done better with the shot.

The game needed a moment of brilliance to open it up. It came in the end but it was something of a surprise thatAlex Song provided it.

There were four minutes of the second half gone when Song took the ball down the left, eluding Kevin Grosskreutz. Checking back he cut in and swept the ball from one foot to another to steer a delicate path between Sebastian Kehl and Lukasz Piszczek. That done he put in a back-post cross that Van Persie had to stretch and swivel for but headed down past Roman Weidenfeller.

Wenger's team put the game away from a simple move: Aaron Ramsey's corner, Vermaelen's flick and Van Persie at the back post to do the rest.

Dortmund should never have been allowed to fashion a consolation goal for Kagawa in injury time but Arsenal can be forgiven that.

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