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3 things we learned from Arsenal's 3-0 victory over Dinamo Zagreb

Arsenal's Champions League dream is still alive after their comfortable win over Dinamo Zagreb.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Arsenal kept their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages alive with a comfortable 3-0 win at home to Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday. It was a thoroughly confident performance from the Gunners, who now face a make-or-break clash with Olympiacos in a fortnight's time.

Arsène Wenger's team was in the driving seat from the very first whistle, though with the exception of a shot smashed over the crossbar by Santi Cazorla, it struggled to create any goalscoring opportunities in the opening exchanges. Zagreb's defense sat deep and compact, and suffocated Arsenal's attackers with their tight positioning.

However, though the visitors were sharp off the ball, they were just about useless on it, and as they invited ever more pressure, an Arsenal breakthrough seemed increasingly likely.

Sure enough, it came just short of the half hour, when Arsenal did Zagreb at their own counter-attacking game. A quick transition from defense into attack culminated in Alexis Sánchez floating a perfect ball in for Mesut Özil, who dived to head home the opener. It was a deserved advantage for Arsenal, and one that set them on the path to a comfortable victory.

After the opener, the impressive defensive organization that had characterized Zagreb's start to the match seemed to evaporate. Within five minutes the Gunners were two to the good, with Sánchez turning scorer by tapping a low Nacho Monreal cross into the back of the net.

By halftime, Arsenal could well have been four up, but Zagreb keeper Eduardo was managing to keep things respectable. He twice made excellent saves to deny the lively Özil from close-range, and the deficit remained at just two at the interval. However, the Gunners were in cruise control, and the game looked all but over.

Zagreb enjoyed their first sustained spell of pressure early in the second half, though nothing came of their fleeting threat and Petr Čech's sheet remained clean. Arsenal weren't quite as threatening at the other end as they had been in the first half; Wenger's men had understandably slipped into cruise control.

However, cruise control was good enough for them to add a third with just over 20 minutes left on the clock. A smart through-ball by Joel Campbell was met inside the area by Sánchez, who rounded the goalkeeper before slotting into an empty net and icing the cake.

Arsenal: Petr Čech; Nacho Monreal, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Héctor Bellerín (Mathieu Debuchy 82'); Santi Cazorla (Calum Chambers 82'), Mathieu Flamini; Alexis Sánchez, Mesut Özil, Joel Campbell; Olivier Giroud (Aaron Ramsey 68').

Goals: Özil (29'), Sánchez (33', 69').

Dinamo Zagreb: Eduardo; Alexandru Mățel, Jérémy Taravel, Leonardo Sigali, Ivo Pinto; Domagoj Antolić (Ángelo Henríquez 71'), Gonçalo, Paulo Machado (Ante Ćorić 84'); Junior Fernandes (El Arabi Hilal Soudani 57'), Marko Rog, Marko Pjaca.

Goals: None.

3 Things

1. Arsenal were in complete control

Zagreb turned in the sort of performance that left observers wondering quite how they'd managed to win the first leg. Though they defended reasonably well early in the game, they were very poor in attack, and barely gave Čech anything to do. Once they'd conceded the first goal and had to chase the game they completely crumbled, and only their goalkeeper prevented things from getting embarrassing. As for Arsenal, it was a thoroughly professional performance, and they were more than good value for the points.

2. Mesut Özil was excellent

Arsenal playmaker Özil is often criticized as turning in impressive performances on the analytical chalkboards but fairly anonymous ones on the pitch. However, this silly criticism was firmly debunked in this match, with the German showing all of the best aspects of his game. His passing in the final third was crisp and incisive; his close control enabled him to skip past defenders and into space; and his display was capped by a fine goal, in which he bravely dived to head a low cross from Sánchez into the back of the net. If it wasn't for that pesky Chilean, there'd be little doubting that Özil was the man of the match.

3. Arsenal's final group game with Olympiacos isn't to be missed

Arsenal's win, combined with Olympiacos' heavy defeat away at Bayern Munich, means the Gunners are now only three points adrift of the second-placed Greek side ahead of their do-or-die clash in Athens in a fortnight's time. Arsenal need to win the game in order to progress, though the Champions League's head-to-head tiebreaker complicates things. A 2-0 victory is the simplest way the Gunners can make the knockouts; though if they concede, they'll need to win and score at least three times in doing so.