For the third season running Arsenal FC completed a smooth passage through the UEFA Champions League qualifying phase, beating Celtic FC 3-1 on a damp London evening to earn a comfortable 5-1 aggregate victory and, with it, a 12th consecutive season among Europe's élite.
Arsène Wenger's side already had one foot in the group stage after last week's win in Glasgow and they made sure of their progress with goals from Eduardo, Emmanuel Eboué and Andrei Arshavin. Celtic, who pulled one back late on through Massimo Donati, must switch their focus to the UEFA Europa League, while Arsenal, without the injured Cesc Fàbregas and Robin van Persie here, can look forward to another assault on a competition whose last four they reached last term.
Celtic's success at FC Dinamo Moskva in the previous round had been their first away from home in Europe for six years, and to repeat the feat here manager Tony Mowbray had stressed the significance of keeping Arsenal scoreless. In the event the visitors were fortunate to last nine minutes without conceding, Eduardo stabbing the ball wide of an empty net after sliding to meet the rebound as Artur Boruc saved Nicklas Bendtner's clever flick.
Denilson and Eboué sent half-chances wide as Arsenal maintained the upper hand and though Aiden McGeady jinked his way into a couple of crossing positions, one centre headed superbly away by William Gallas with Shaun Maloney waiting to pounce, it was no surprise when the hosts struck after 28 minutes. Eduardo sent Boruc the wrong way from the spot, having won the penalty himself after going to ground under Boruc's challenge following a one-two with Bendtner.
The traffic continued to flow towards the visitors' goal, Eduardo drawing a flying save from Boruc with a sweetly curled shot before Bendtner failed to connect with a free header. McGeady flashed an effort wide shortly after the break for the Scottish side, but normal business soon resumed. Eduardo trickled a shot wide from a promising position then, in the 53rd minute, Eboué made it two when Bendtner's back-heeled flick sent Abou Diaby into the box and he laid the ball back to Eboué, who stepped around Daniel Fox before firing past Boruc.
Two substitutes combined for the third, Aaron Ramsey feeding Arshavin who, just two minutes after coming on, turned past Donati and found the bottom corner. With the last kick, Donati flashed a volley across Manuel Almunia and inside the far post but the fact it was Celtic's first attempt on target said it all.