Arsenal FC are safely into the UEFA Champions League group stage after former AC Sparta Praha player Tomáš Rosický helped end the hopes of his old club.
Already leading the third qualifying round tie 2-0 from the first leg two weeks ago, Arsenal increased their advantage within seven minutes tonight with a smart finish from Rosický. Sparta more than held their own thereafter, but could find no way back into the game and substitute Cesc Fabregas and Eduardo da Silva increased the margin of the English side's aggregate success late on.
Rosický on target
With injury problems denying him defender Bacary Sagna, William Gallas and Emmanuel Eboué, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger was grateful for the fitness of centre-back Philippe Senderos after an ankle problem while Manuel Almunia continued in goal due to Jens Lehmann's achilles complaint. But the early action was at the other end and on seven minutes Justin Hoyte set away Theo Walcott, who moved through the Sparta defence and cut back for Rosický to sidefoot in.
Robin van Persie threatened a second eight minutes later as he volleyed over Eduardo's cross, while Marek Kulič came close to equalising on the night but his shot deflected away from goal due to Hoyte's deflection. Jan Rezek then hit the ball into the side-netting but Arsenal's back line were seldom troubled. That continued after the break and there was only limited action in front of the Sparta goal. But Fabregas was brought on with 22 minutes left and near the end struck his second goal of the tie after some clever work on the left wing by Eduardo.
The Croatian international then claimed a deserved goal of his own in the final minute with a volley from Denilson's cross. Arsenal, beaten finalists two seasons ago, can now look forward to their tenth straight group stage campaign after Thursday's draw. Sparta, meanwhile, will go into the UEFA Cup first round.
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