Arsene Wenger described Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Olympiakos as the greatest escape.
Olivier Giroud grabbed a stunning hat-trick to guide Arsenal to the Champions League’s last 16.
Arsenal needed an emphatic victory, a miracle to make it out of Group F and that is exactly what the Gunners delivered last night.
Giroud gave the lead with a powerful header in the first half, also doubled Arsenal’s advantage with a clinical left-footed finish just after the break and rounded off a sensational display with a smooth penalty.
The victory against Olympiakos saw a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for Arsene Wenger who lost three of his first four fixtures of the campaign leaving them in danger of an early exit.
Wenger was visibly delighted for the right reason and was more than happy to praise his men’s ability to overcome a plethora of injuries to reach the knock out stages.
He said after the match: “I told you before that it would be the greatest escape.
“I must say I’m very proud of the team as we had to be right on the mental and tactical side. At 2-0 we had to push for a third goal, it was too dangerous to stay at 2-0.
“Nine times out of 10 you are out. We needed something special to come back like we did and tonight we needed a complete team performance. This team really is a team and they showed it again. The French tactician was full of praise.
“You don’t need to single Giroud out tonight because he scored the goals. But he showed character again with the penalty. He also hailed Giroud’s performance.
“In the last three weeks we lost Coquelin, Cazorla and Sanchez. With all the other injuries not many people gave us a chance.
“But we are a real team and you could see that today. To score without conceding a goal is not easy. It is a special night for us. We needed something special and when you can deliver that you can create a positive memory for the rest of the season.
“Maybe it is a lucky year for us in the Champions League, you never know.” Wenger remains optimistic.
Arsenal needed to pull out something extraordinary despite the hostile Greek atmosphere to fight their way out as earlier defeats away to Dinamo Zagreb and home to Olympiakos pushed the Gunners on the back foot and they needed someone who can turn around and fight hard. This time it was often-derided Olivier Giroud who did the job with a stunning hat-trick. It was also a bonus for Arsene Wenger as the France striker looked so good, beautifully assisted by the excellent Joel Campbell, while Alexis Sanchez out with injury and Theo Walcott yet to regain full fitness.
It was definitely a relief for Wenger too, as his decision to prefer David Ospina over Petr Cech in goal against Olympiakos in the first leg saw the Colombian making silly mistakes in a 3-2 home loss that eventually threatened to prove a decisive one.
However, this was a wonderful and memorable night when no praise was enough for both Arsenal and Wenger. The French manager who always put faith on his men was repaid with a berth in the knockout phase of Champions League.