ARSENAL last night secured a 16th successive campaign in the Champions League group stage with two strikes from Aaron Ramsey at the Emirates Stadium condemning Fenerbahce to a 5-0 aggregate defeat.
Scorers: Ramsay 26, 72
Referee: CV Carballo (Spain).
Ramsey’s strong start to the season continued with a goal in each half of the second leg, his 26th-minute opener putting the tie beyond doubt before his brilliant finish from Theo Walcott’s cross completed the rout.
The 22-year-old Wales midfielder has scored three goals in four appearances this season and impressed again as he sent Fenerbahce, overwhelmed 3-0 in the first leg in Istanbul last Wednesday, crashing out of Europe.
It was the Gunners’ 12th victory in the 12 play-off matches they have faced in the competition.
Now that Arsenal are guaranteed to be present in tomorrow’s draw for the group stage, manager Arsene Wenger can step up efforts to make new signings before the transfer window closes on Monday.
Wenger stated on Friday that the biggest draw to any potential new arrival is Champions League football and the Frenchman’s hopes of capturing targets including Karim Benzema, Angel di Maria and Mesut Ozil will have improved.
The victory came at a cost, however, as Lukas Podolski limped off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, placing his involvement in Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham in doubt.
Jack Wilshere started at the expense of Tomas Rosicky after being rested on the bench for Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Fulham and Nacho Monreal replaced Kieran Gibbs at left-back.
There were worrying moments late in the game as Wilshere went down clutching his ankle – he has undergone repeated surgeries on the joint – and he was then viciously hacked down by Bruno Alves, but he finished the game.
Ramsey’s opener had come after Podolski found Walcott running across the area and when he was tackled, the ball slipped to the Welshman who drilled home an easy finish.
Walcott was again the provider for the second, with Ramsey expertly steering the ball into the back of the net.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Sagna, Mertesacker, Monreal, Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla, Walcott (Miyaichi 74), Giroud (Sanogo 60), Podolski (Gibbs 49). Subs not used: Fabianski, Koscielny, Rosicky, Frimpong.
Fenerbahce: Demirel, Gonul, Bruno Alves, Korkmaz, Erkin, Sahin, Baroni (Potuk 67), Meireles, Kuyt (Webo 66), Emenike, Sow (Topuz 83). Subs not used: Gunok, Ali Kaldirim, Irtegun, Ucan.