Arsenal keeper Petr Čech praised Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil for making the difference against Dinamo and setting up a Group F decider against Olympiacos.
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Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Čech declared "we are in the play-offs" as he looked forward to next month's showdown with Olympiacos, a game that will determine who reaches the knockout stage as UEFA Champions League Group F runners-up.
Tuesday's 3-0 home success over Dinamo Zagreb, allied to Olympiacos's 4-0 loss at Bayern München, means Arsenal will advance if they win by any margin other than 1-0 or 2-1 in Piraeus on 9 December. Anything less will take the Greek champions through. "We know where we stand and we will go for the result we need to progress," Čech said. "We are in a good position – it depends on us, on our result. We have it in our hands."
Arsenal have the combined brilliance of Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil to thank for that. Sánchez crossed for Özil to head in the first on 29 minutes, then knocked in the second four minutes later. The Croatian champions could not cope with the pair and Özil twice came close to increasing the lead before Sánchez rounded Dinamo keeper Eduardo for the third on 69 minutes.
"Mesut was outstanding again and Alexis, when we needed him, was where he needed to be," Čech said. "When you have such quality players who can make the difference, when they step up and do that, it is exactly what the team needs. We wanted to bounce back after the defeat in the league [2-1 at West Brom on Saturday] which was disappointing for us, so we are happy with what we have done today."
Arsenal did not have everything their own way. It took nearly half an hour for the breakthrough, and prior to that Dinamo had kept the hosts at arm's length. "It was a difficult start," Čech, 33, conceded. "They were well organised and had nothing to lose. We had to be patient and we waited for our chances. The two goals we scored in the first half were decisive. We created the advantage and then obviously played with more freedom."
Dinamo defender Ivo Pinto insisted his side could hold their heads high, despite now being guaranteed bottom spot in the section. "It was a hard game, Arsenal are one of the best teams in Europe," he said. "We started very well, we weren't afraid, we had the ball – it was 50-50.
"We went forward as well, but after the first goal it was easy for them. [Özil and Sánchez] have something – they have the star quality that makes them two of the best players in the world. Today they made the difference in the first two goals. We leave our hearts here, we gave our best, but it wasn't enough."