A second half Aaron Ramsey goal away at Borussia Dortmund has gone a huge way to sending Arsenal into the Champions League knockout stages. The Gunners had more than their fair slice of fortune in the 1-0 victory at Signal Iduna Park, but having been hit by a suckerpunch in the reverse fixture at the Emirates, they'll feel justice has been done.
The game got off to a cagey start, with neither team able to work any meaningful attacking space. It's telling that the game's first real opportunity arose from a set-piece, with Dortmund center back Neven Subotić guiding the ball narrowly wide of Wojciech Szczęsny's goal from a Marco Reus free-kick after 17 minutes. From open play, there was little in the way of chances created.
Despite Arsenal having comfortably more possession throughout the first half, their ball control generally came from sideways passes across their back four and deep in midfield. The compact Dortmund pivot happily gobbled up anything played into the Gunners' attacking four and looked to quickly counter. It was on a quick break inside the final 10 minutes of the half that Jakub Błaszczykowski played in Henrikh Mkhitaryan in space on the edge of the area, though the ball bobbled and the Georgian midfielder missed the best chance of the entire half.
Arsenal failed to record a single shot in the first half, and nearly found themselves behind early in the second. A cross from the right was headed toward goal by Marco Reus, with Szczęsny forced into a diving save to tip the ball around the post. Seconds later Dortmund were on the attack again, with Błaszczykowski's shot palmed away by his compatriot.
Then, just past the hour, Arsenal took the lead. Out of nowhere, a deep cross was flicked on in the area by Olivier Giroud, with the on-form Aaron Ramsey popping up in the area to flick the ball beyond Roman Weidenfeller for 1-0. The opening goal tore the game wide open, with Robert Lewandowski missing a good chance for the hosts before Ramsey was denied by the Dortmund keeper from close range.
Aided by having five defenders on the field by the time the final whistle was blown, Arsenal withstood the late Dortmund barrage with surprising ease. The Gunners are now joint-top of their group with Napoli, with Dortmund three points in arrears. The group of death isn't decided yet, though Arsenal are in great shape to progress to the knockout phase.
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller; Schmelzer, Sokratis, Subotić, Großkreutz; Şahin, Bender (Hoffman 75'); Reus (Schieber 86'), Mkhitaryan, Błaszczykowski (Aubameyang 75'); Lewandowski.
Arsenal: Szczęsny; Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Sagna; Arteta, Ramsey; Cazorla (Monreal 75'), Özil, Rosický (Vermaelen 90'); Giroud (Bendtner 90').
Goals: Ramsey (62')