Arsenal capitalized on a disappointing home performance by Olympiakos to win 3-0 in Piraeus on Wednesday night and clinch the second spot in the pool’s group behind Bayern Munich, advancing to the last 16 of the Champions League. Olympiakos will have to make do with the Europa League round of 32 from February.
The Premier League side shook off the noisy atmosphere at the Karaiskakis Stadium to silence the home fans with three goals by Olivier Giroud and get the result it needed, while the Reds clearly cracked under the pressure of the occasion.
After a positive first 20 minutes when Olympiakos put some pressure on the Gunners, the Greeks were unable to threaten their visitors, who made it all look easy scoring three goals from the five or six chances that they created.
Unfortunately for Olympiakos its defense was reminiscent of its showing in Munich, when the Greek champion conceded three goals in the first 20 minutes, evolving into the team’s Achilles heel.
The first warning for Olympiakos came on the 24th minute when Arsenal hit the crossbar through a Laurent Koscielny shot.
Then five minutes later Aaron Ramsey crossed from the left to find Giroud inside the box and he powered a goalbound header that Olympiakos keeper Roberto was unable to push to safety, as the ball hit his hand and his head before going into the net.
Four minutes into the second half Giroud made it 2-0 for Arsenal after a great personal effort by Joel Campbell who slotted the ball to the Frenchman and he left Roberto with no option but to pick the ball from his net for a second time, to the joy of the traveling fans.
Olympiakos came close to a goal on the 58th but the swerving shot of Costas Fortounis was saved with a spectacular effort by Arsenal keeper Petr Cech.
Giroud completed his hat-trick on the 67th minute by converting the penalty from an Omar Elabdellaoui handball into his and Arsenal’s third goal on the night.