• Arsenal 2-0 Marseille, Champions League

Wilshere double puts Arsenal on brink of last 16

ESPN staff
November 26, 2013
Jack Wilshere took just 29 seconds to put Arsenal ahead against Marseille, and they never looked back © AP

Jack Wilshere was quick off the mark as Arsenal set about confirming their place in the last 16 of the Champions League against Marseille, but events in Dortmund mean Arsene Wenger's men will still have work to do in their final group match against Napoli in two weeks' time.

Final day frenzy

  • Champions League Group F remains all to play for on Matchday 6 on December 11:
  • Arsenal will go through so long as they avoid a defeat of at least three goals to Napoli in Italy
  • Dortmund will go through so long as they match Napoli's result, including margin of victory/defeat, against Marseille
  • Napoli will go through if they beat Arsenal by at least three goals, or if they win and Dortmund draw, or if they draw and Dortmund lose
It took only 29 seconds for Wilshere to break Marseille at the Emirates, with a beautifully curled shot hitting the net before many attending the match in north London had taken their seats. The French side offered little by the way of a comeback, and the only surprise was that Arsenal did not extend their lead before half-time, with Mesut Ozil guilty of a dreadful penalty kick that Steve Mandanda pushed away with ease.

Wilshere added a second midway through the second half, and eyes could be cast towards Germany, where Group F rivals Dortmund were hosting Napoli needing to win to prevent Arsenal securing a berth in the last 16. A 3-1 victory for last year's finalists ensures that Arsenal, Dortmund and Napoli all enter the final matchday with a chance of getting through, but with the trapdoor of third place and the Europa League also a distinct possibility.

Arsenal were looking to build on their impressive win in Dortmund earlier this month, and got off to a flying start inside 30 seconds. Bacary Sagna released Wilshere down the right. The England midfielder took the ball on into the penalty area, before cutting back inside his marker to curl a superb left-footed shot past Mandanda and into the top corner.

Arsenal cut Marseille open again on six minutes, as Olivier Giroud slipped Wilshere inside the full-back. This time the England man did look to pull the ball across the face of goal where Ramsey arrived on cue in the six-yard box, only for Mandanda to make a superb reaction save at point-blank range.

Marseille slowly managed to stem the tide and saw a spell of posession in midfield. Ozil's first touch was heavy after being picked out in the penalty area by a chipped pass from Ramsey - which was a sign of the current inconsistencies for the £43million Germany playmaker.

It did not get any better for the former Real Madrid man when he had the chance to score from the penalty spot on 37 minutes after Nicolas N'Koulou tripped Ramsey, although the challenge looked just outside the left side of the box. However, after taking an age with his one-step run-up, Ozil clipped the ball to the left and Mandanda made a smart save.

Ozil was then upended by Jeremy Morel as he darted down the middle, but Ramsey's 20-yard free-kick was fired straight into the wall.

Arsenal started the second half with some purpose. Ozil's precision pass set Giroud free, and his shot was deflected just wide. The German then collected a pass from Wilshere on his chest and drove in an angled shot which was saved by the Marseille keeper.

It was finally 2-0 on 65 minutes. Ramsey's pass found Ozil in the right side of the penalty area and his cutback through the six-yard box fell perfectly for Wilshere, who drove the ball past Mandanda.

Arsenal, though, allowed their tempo to drop, and it almost allowed the French side back into the tie. Marseille could not find a way back, however. And, while the hosts could have scored more through substitutes Cazorla and Walcott - both of whom missed clear sights of goal - the hard work had already been done.

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