Wenger surprised to progress alone

Thu, 24 Nov 08:40:36 2011

Arsene Wenger was left surprised after his Arsenal team qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League ahead of Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United.

The Gunners booked their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the 12th consecutive season last night when they beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium.

It seemed doubtful that the Londoners would even qualify for the group stages of the competition after struggling against Udinese in the playoffs, at a time when the club's form was so poor that some fans were even calling for Wenger's head.

"I am surprised (that we are the first English team to qualify)," Wenger said. "Manchester United could have qualified (by beating Benfica on Tuesday) and of course everyone expects Man City to qualify. We were in a difficult group and I'm very happy to see where we have come from.

"When we drew Udinese in the qualifier, you couldn't bet exactly that we would go through like we have done so overall I am happy. We came through a very difficult period because we were united and we worked hard together."

Predictably, it was Robin van Persie who proved the architect of Dortmund's downfall last night. The Dutchman headed home from Alex Song's cross to put Arsenal ahead just after the break and added a second four minutes from time before Shinji Kagawa pulled back an injury-time consolation for the Germans.


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