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Podolski fires Arsenal to Olympiacos victory

Arsenal FC 3-1 Olympiacos FC
After an exchange of goals before half-time, Lukas Podolski's 56th-minute strike set the Gunners on course for the win Arsène Wenger demanded.

Podolski fires Arsenal to Olympiacos victory
Podolski fires Arsenal to Olympiacos victory ©UEFA.com

Arsenal FC recovered from a slow start to take control of their home meeting with Olympiacos FC and UEFA Champions League Group B.

After a disjointed opening 42 minutes a moment of individual brilliance from Gervinho put the Gunners in front, only for Kostas Mitroglou to head in the equaliser before half-time. It proved a temporary setback for the hosts, however, and the second period brought an improved performance that had its reward in goals from Lukas Podolski and substitute Aaron Ramsey.

Ramsey's adroit chip in the closing exchanges was a world away from the early stages, when a mix-up between Vito Mannone and Thomas Vermaelen presented Olympiacos with a chance. David Fuster swooped on the loose ball, but the Arsenal defence scrambled back to clear at the expense of a corner. The north London outfit did not let that initial uncertainty affect them and Santi Cazorla went close when he forced Balázs Megyeri to tip his whipped free-kick over the bar.

The Greek champions did cause problems for the Arsenal defence, however. Paulo Machado crossed for Mitroglou whose header was comfortably held by Mannone. The pair combined again, but Mannone got down to stop Mitroglou's low shot. Machado went close himself – first he scooped Giannis Maniatis's cross over the bar from close range, before hitting a free-kick straight at Mannone.

With half-time approaching Gervinho gave Arsenal the lead, unleashing a low strike from the edge of the area after Podolski's cross had caused confusion between Kostas Manolas and Pablo Contreras, the ball running free to the Ivorian. Olympiacos were level at the break, though, Mitroglou rising between Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny to nod Leandro Greco's cross into the corner of the net.

Arsenal had the first opportunity of the second period, yet Cazorla was unable to capitalise on Gervinho's cut-back and fired wide. A similar ball into the danger zone picked out Podolski who spun and shot through two defenders and goalkeeper Megyeri to find the net.

Koscielny headed over the bar from close range having met Mikel Arteta's set piece. Olivier Giroud then came off the bench and twice went close to scoring, only to be stopped by desperate Olympiacos defending. He did set up the third goal, however, as Ramsey raced onto his long pass and calmly chipped Megyeri to wrap up the victory.

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