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Dominant Arsenal make light work of Fenerbahçe

Fenerbahçe SK 0-3 Arsenal FC
The Gunners are well-placed for a 16th successive group stage appearance following a commanding first-leg performance in Istanbul.

Dominant Arsenal make light work of Fenerbahçe
Dominant Arsenal make light work of Fenerbahçe ©UEFA.com

Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud earned Arsenal FC a convincing first-leg victory against Fenerbahçe SK, all but securing the Gunners a place in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 16th successive season.

A play-off tie lacking in major incident sprung to life six minutes after the restart when Gibbs turned in his first European goal. Ramsey, on target when the English side won 5-2 here in the group stage five years ago, drove in the second after hour and a miserable night for Fenerbahçe was compounded by Giroud's 77th-minute penalty.  

Arsenal soon settled into their rhythm, slowing the game down and probing for openings in an attempt to quell the raucous home supporters. Opportunities were slow to materialise, though, with an off-target Giroud header the closest either side came in the first 20 minutes.

For all of the Premier League team's neat interplay, Volkan Demirel was never seriously extended in a half in which the visitors lost centre-back Laurent Koscielny to a facial injury following a high boot to the face from Moussa Sow.

Fenerbahçe, who never deviated from their game plan of getting men behind the ball before the break, started the second period positively, with Dirk Kuyt firing over from outside the penalty area. Within two minutes, though, they were behind, with Gibbs the unlikely scorer. Ramsey slipped in Theo Walcott inside the penalty area and the England international's ball across goal was gleefully swept in at the far post by the left-back.

One very nearly became two moments later when Walcott, freed by Jack Wilshere, was denied by Volkan, who then beat out a Wilshere shot. A second goal did arrive in the 64th minute, though, Ramsey advancing unopposed and unleashing a low shot which Volkan could only palm into his own net.

Michal Kadlec's foul on the lively Walcott gave Giroud the chance to ice the cake and leave Fenerbahçe, who elicited two saves from Wojciech Szczęsny late on, praying for a minor miracle in London next week.

The participation of Fenerbahçe in the competition is subject to pending disciplinary and CAS proceedings.

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