Football Football

Arsenal hit Basel to snatch top spot

Lucas Perez celebrates his goal against Basel in teh Champions League with Kieran Gibbs and Mesut Ozil on December 7, 2016. PHOTO/SKY
Lucas Perez celebrates his goal against Basel in teh Champions League with Kieran Gibbs and Mesut Ozil on December 7, 2016. PHOTO/SKY

BASEL, Switzerland, Dec 7- Arsenal pipped Paris Saint-Germain to top spot in Group A after thrashing Basel 4-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday evening.

Needing to better the result of the PSG, who were playing Ludogorets at the Parc des Princes, to have any chance of qualifying as group winners, the Gunners were helped on their way at St Jakob-Park by a Lucas Perez hat-trick.

Alex Iwobi added a fourth in the 54th minute before former Newcastle striker Seydou Doumbia grabbed a late consolation for the hosts, and there was no further late drama as Arsenal held on to remain unbeaten in the group stage for the first time in 11 years.

Meanwhile in Paris, Ludogorets held on for a 2-2 draw against Unai Emery’s side to hand Arsenal top spot and a top seeding in next Monday’s last-16 draw.

Wenger’s men will now avoid the likes of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the next round, while Ludogorets’ draw coupled with Basel’s defeat means the Bulgarian champions go into the Europa League.

Arsenal, who made six changes from the side that beat West Ham at the weekend, were ahead after just eight minutes when Alexis Sanchez picked out Kieran Gibbs, and the full-back squared for Perez to finish from close range.

Basel responded quickly but they denied an equaliser when Matias Delgado was adjudged offside in the build-up to Marc Janko putting the ball in the back of the net.

However, it was the visitors who extended their lead in the 16th minute and it was almost a carbon copy of the first. Sanchez picked out the run of Gibbs, who had his shot saved by Tomas Vaclik but the rebound was tapped home by Perez.

The Gunners were almost punished in the 19th minute when Adama Traore’s shot with the outside of his boot whistled past the far post.

After what was a relatively quiet night for David Ospina, the Colombia international had to be alert in the 40th minute to keep out Renato Steffen’s drive before diving at the feet of Janko to gather the rebound.

The Gunners wrapped up their three points just two minutes after the restart as Gibbs’ strong pass was missed by Sanchez but collected by Perez, who produced a first-time finish to round off his first Arsenal hat-trick.

Arsenal were playing some excellent stuff as Sanchez released Mesut Ozil in behind and the German squared the ball for Iwobi to finish from close range.

In the 66th minute Wenger would have been nervous on the bench when Sanchez was fouled and went to ground, but the Chilean picked himself up to hit the crossbar from the resulting free-kick.

Sanchez was then replaced by Mohamed Elneny moments later, while Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott replaced Aaron Ramsey and Ozil with just over 15 minutes remaining.

Substitute Doumbia pulled one back for the hosts with a fine piece of skill and a clinical finish, but Basel ended the night bottom of the group.

For Arsenal, they finish top of a Champions League group for the first time in five years and they will be hoping the draw is kind to them when it takes place in Switzerland on Monday.

-By Sky Sports-