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Monday 28 November 2011

Arsenal through to knockout stage

Gunners beat Borussia Dortmund to progress to Champions League last 16

Arsenal's in-form striker Robin van Persie has now scored 16 goals this season

Arsenal have become the first English club to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League after a 2-1 victory at home to Borussia Dortmund.

Dutch striker Robin van Persie continued his astonishing recent scoring form by netting twice against the German outfit to seal the Gunners' progress.

Arsenal, who had to win a qualifying round against Udinese to get into the group stage, assured themselves of top spot in Group F in the process - meaning they will face a team that finishes second in their group in the last 16.

Van Persie headed them in front just after half-time following fine work from Alex Song and the Gunners captain tapped home towards the end to wrap up the victory, with Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa grabbing a last-gasp consolation.

After a difficult start to the season, which included an 8-2 thrashing at Manchester United, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admitted he was surprised by the ease of their progress in Europe.

"I am surprised that we are the first English team to qualify," said the Frenchman. "We were in a difficult group and I am very happy to see where we have come from.

"When we drew Udinese in the qualifier, you could not bet that we would go through like this as we have done. We came through a very difficult period because we were united and worked hard together."

Arsenal, who have now won eight out of their last nine games in all competitions, play their final Group F game away at Olympiakos on Tuesday 6 December.

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Key Points

  • Gunners reach Champions League last 16 stage
  • They win group after beating Borussia Dortmund
  • Arsenal are first English club into knockout round