Champions League - Alexis Sanchez puts edgy Arsenal into group stage

Champions League play-off second leg, Emirates Stadium - Arsenal 1 (Sanchez, 45+1') Besiktas 0; Arsenal qualify for group stage.

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Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez (R) celebrates with team mate Santi Cazorla after scoring a goal against Besiktas during their Champions League play-off (Reuters)

Arsenal progressed to the group stages of the Champions League after a nervy 1-0 victory over Besiktas at the Emirates Stadium.

Missing Olivier Giroud - perhaps out until next year with a broken ankle - Arsenal struggled to break down a Besiktas side who were happy not to commit men to the attack. It was Jack Wilshere who went closest early on, while his one-two with Mesut Ozil allowed Alexis Sanchez to slide a shot past the Tolga Zengin on the stroke of half-time.

Wilshere almost conceded a penalty five minutes before Sanchez's goal when he appeared to slide into the back of Ramon Motta inside the box, but the referee gave nothing.

In the second half, Arsenal had a frantic few minutes, when Ozil had a shot blocked from 10 yards, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struck a close-range effort straight at Zengin, and Mathieu Debuchy was sent off for a second yellow. Despite that, Arsenal managed to hold on against a thoroughly toothless Besiktas side, who spurned some good chances to win on away goals.

Although Arsenal made it hard for themselves as ever, they deserved their victory and a place in the group stage for a 17th consecutive season.

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Debuchy is sent off for Arsenal against Besiktas


9' - WILSHERE MISS: Sanchez is bundled off the ball by Mustafa Pektemek as he breaks, the ball runs to Wilshere in the box, but he drags his shot wide.

41' - PENALTY APPEAL: Jack Wilshere and Arsenal are hugely fortunate when he appeals to bring down Franco in the box, but the referee allows play to continue.

45+1' - GOAL! Arsenal 1-0 Besiktas: Alexis steals in ahead of Wilshere after he plays a one-two with Ozil and strikes a ball past Zengin.

52' - SANCHEZ SHOT: A great short pass inside the box from Wilshere finds Sanchez, but his shot is blocked and put just wide.

60' - DEBUCHY MISS - Cazorla curls a cross in front the left to the back post, and Debuchy wastes a difficult chance by glancing his header straight out.

64' - BA MISS: Mathieu Flamini's clearance bounces into the pass of Demba Ba, who swivels and sends a shot into the side-netting

73' - OZIL SHOT: Ozil receives the ball from Sanchez in the box, and blasts his shot at a defender.

74' - OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN SHOT: Nacho Monreal crosses from the left but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain puts it straight at the 'keeper.:

74' - DEBUCHY RED CARD: Debuchy drags Petkemek to the ground on the halfway line and is given a second red.


Arsenal have never conceded at home to a Turkish team and have never lost to one in 90 minutes.

Besiktas have played 15 matches against English teams, losing eight, winning four and drawing three.

This was Besiktas' first away defeat in the Champions League in four matches.

Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League group stage for a 17th season in a row.



Jack Wilshere will cost Arsenal sooner rather than later. Despite some excellent and energising contributions throughout the match, Wilshere almost gave away a penalty in the first half, let fly with a number of reckless tackles and gave away the ball for a Besiktas break in the last few minutes. Against better sides, or with a different referee, he will cost Arsenal matches more often than he will win them.

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Jack Wilshere was Arsenal's best and worst player against Besiktas


Jack Wilshere (Arsenal): Despite the above, it cannot be denied that he was constantly involved all over the pitch for Arsenal, and it was his one-two with Ozil that set up Sanchez for the only goal of the game. His enthusiasm and energy is almost as remarkable as his recklessness.


Arsenal: Szczesny 6, Debuchy 6, Mertesacker 6, Koscielny 6, Monreal 6, Wilshere 7, Oxlade-Chamberlain 6, Flamini 6, Cazorla 6, Ozil 6, Sanchez 7. Subs: Chambers 6.

Besiktas: Zengin 6, Tolga 5, Motta 6, Gulum 5, Franco 6, Koybasi 6, Kavlak 6, Ozyakup 5, Hutchinson 6, Olcay 6, Pektemek 6, Ba 5. Subs: Tore 6, Uysal 6, Tosun 6.


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