Olivier Giroud’s hat-trick secured Arsenal a place in the last 16 of the Champions League after they won 3-0 at Olympiakos, while Chelsea beat Porto 2-0 at Stamford Bridge to finish top of Group F.
Arsene Wenger’s men, who are 20/1 with BetVictor to be crowned champions of Europe, needed to win by at least two clear goals in Athens and they produced a clinical away display to make sure they went into the bowl for Monday’s draw.
French striker Giroud opened the scoring in the 25th minute when he headed home a fine cross from Aaron Ramsey before making it 2-0 just after the break after being fed by Joel Campbell.
The win was sealed in the 69th minute from the penalty spot after Omar Elabdellaoui was penalised for handling Nacho Monreal’s shot.
A delighted Giroud told BT Sport: “It’s fantastic for me and for the team. We are really pleased. It’s nice to go through because we were not in a good position and finally we have done it. We feel relieved tonight.
“In the Champions League it’s one level up and we need to be all focused. As a unit, together, good cohesion, defending well and finishing well. It’s nice for us. It was not so easy in this stadium with this atmosphere and we are really pleased to have done it.”
Gunners boss Wenger added: “I told you before that it would be the greatest escape. I must say I’m very proud of the team as we had to be right on the mental and tactical side. At 2-0 we had to push for a third goal, it was too dangerous to stay at 2-0.”
Chelsea, meanwhile, put their Premier League woes behind them as an own goal from Marcano Sierra and a second-half strike from the ever-impressive Willian saw them through to the knockout stages. The Blues are 14/1 to lift the trophy.
Chelsea could now face either PSG, Juventus, PSV Eindhoven, Benfica, Roma or Gent, with Jose Mourinho claiming: “Every team finishing second wants to play us or Zenit St Petersburg.
“Every team doesn’t want to play Barcelona, they don’t want to play Real Madrid, they don’t want to play Atletico, they don’t want to play Bayern Munich.”
It was a bad night for new Valencia coach Gary Neville after his side lost 2-0 at home to Lyon to drop into the Europa League while Barcelona, who are 5/2 joint favourites with Bayern Munich to win the competition, could be without Neymar for some time after he suffered a groin injury prior to their 1-1 draw with Bayer Leverkusen.