Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says his tactical ‘gamble’ paid dividends as they earned a dramatic Champions League comeback victory at Anderlecht.
The Belgians were leading through Andy Najar’s 71st-minute header when Wenger brought on Joel Campbell, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski. And two goals in the final two minutes from Kieran Gibbs and Podolski earned an unlikely 2-1 win in Brussels. “It’s a gambling situation in these games and it worked,” said Wenger. Arsenal dominated possession without creating many clear-cut chances and were punished when Honduras winger Najar gave Anderlecht the advantage. And they were fortunate not to fall further behind as Najar and Anthony Vanden Borre wasted chances to double the home side’s lead. “In the last five minutes in the Champions League the nerves play a part and we had to get into these five minutes without conceding a second goal,” said Wenger. “I had hope, it maybe didn’t look like it, but it happened. “The crucial point was when we were 1-0 down and they couldn’t take advantage with the chance for the second goal.”
Group D results/fixtures
|Dortmund||X||2-0||9 Dec||4 Nov|
|Arsenal||26 Nov||X||4 Nov||4-1|
The Gunners’ remarkable fightback leaves them well placed to reach the Champions League knockout phase for the 12th consecutive season. Second-placed Arsenal have six points at the halfway stage of Group D, three behind German side Borussia Dortmund who have a perfect record of three wins. Anderlecht’s late capitulation – which means they have not won in their last 11 Champions League ties – leaves them five points adrift of Wenger’s team ahead of next month’s return fixture at Emirates Stadium. Then, the Gunners host Dortmund on 26 November before their final group game at Galatasaray on 9 December. “It (the win) was vital for us to have a chance to qualify,” said Wenger, who celebrated his 65th birthday on Wednesday. “We are in a strong position now. It’s down to us now. Win our home games and we are through.”