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Wilshere keeps Arsenal in pole position

Published: Tuesday 26 November 2013, 22.37CET
Arsenal FC 2-0 Olympique de Marseille
Two Jack Wilshere goals, the first inside 30 seconds, moved Arsenal clear in Group F but they are still not through while OM are out of Europe.
by Michael Harrold
from Arsenal Stadium

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Published: Tuesday 26 November 2013, 22.37CET

Wilshere keeps Arsenal in pole position

Arsenal FC 2-0 Olympique de Marseille
Two Jack Wilshere goals, the first inside 30 seconds, moved Arsenal clear in Group F but they are still not through while OM are out of Europe.

Arsenal FC remain top of Group F after a 2-0 victory against Olympique de Marseille, but despite picking up their 12th point in the section they are still not through to the UEFA Champions League round of 16.

With Borussia Dortmund beating SSC Napoli in the other match, Arsenal must avoid a three-goal defeat on 11 December in Naples to be sure of advancing. They will at least travel with confidence after a strike in each half from Jack Wilshere ensured victory against a Marseille side still searching for their first point and confirmed bottom of the group.

Arsenal got off to a stunning start and had the ball in the net after only 29.56 seconds, their second-fastest UEFA Champions League goal. Bacary Sagna released Wilshere down the right and he cut into the area before turning Lucas Mendes and curling a left-foot shot high to the right of Steve Mandanda in the Marseille goal.

With no chance of progressing in this competition, Marseille coach Élie Baup made six changes to the team that had beaten AC Ajaccio on Friday, and with key figures such as Mathieu Valbuena and Florian Thauvin on the bench and Dimitri Payet injured, they struggled to keep pace.

On eight minutes Arsenal were almost in again. Olivier Giroud fed Wilshere and his low cross picked out Aaron Ramsey unmarked seven metres from goal, only for Mandanda to brilliantly block his strike.

A second goal seemed a matter of time, but instead the tempo slowed and it was not until eight minutes from the break that Arsenal upped the ante again. Ramsey turned Nicolas N'Koulou whose clumsy challenge cost his side a penalty. Up stepped Mesut Özil, yet Mandanda dived low to his right to palm away the attempt and keep Marseille in the game.

Arsenal were back on the attack after the restart, and Kassim Abdallah deflected Ramsey's menacing effort wide, before Mandanda saved well from Özil. In response, Baup brought on Valbuena and Thauvin on 58 minutes, but they could not turn the tide and Arsenal doubled their lead seven minutes later. Ramsey passed to Özil just inside the area and he crossed low for Wilshere to fire in his second of the match.

Arsenal did not have it all their own way in the closing stages as twice Thauvin drew smart saves from Wojciech Szczęsny, but Marseille could not find a way back into the game.

Last updated: 03/12/13 19.42CET

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