Olivier Giroud’s hat trick in Arsenal’s 3-0 away win in Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League match day six encounter at the Stadio Georgios Karaiskáki was all the Gunners needed to end Nigeria’s Brown Ideye’s hope of making it to the knockout phase of the competition.
The Frenchman chose the perfect time to score his first Arsenal treble, converting Aaron Ramsey’s cross with a firm header, applying a calm finish from the impressive Joel Campbell’s through-ball and slotting in a penalty after Nacho Monreal’s shot was handled.
The Nigerian international who came into the game full of confidence fired blanks as his opposite number Giroud did the needful to ensure Arsenal’s record of qualifying for the final 16 round was retained.
Arsenal knew the size of their task a while before their final Group F fixture but, after such a clumsy start to their Champions League campaign, the Gunners welcomed any chance – however slim – to qualify from this stage for the 16th consecutive season.
Wenger’s team could take heart from their 2-0 win at Monaco in March – a template for this trip to Athens, according to the Arsenal manager. And with goals required, Wenger opted for one attack-minded change – Walcott replacing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the starting line-up.
Olivier Giroud gave Arsenal a half-time lead to put them on course for the last 16 of the Champions League after meeting Aaron Ramsey’s cross with a firm header that beat Roberto at his near post.
Theo Walcott also went close for the Gunners while Laurent Koscielny almost steered a cross into his own net which at the end proved a vital touch considering the fact that Ideye was just inches away from a simple tap in.
Giroud’s second gave the Gunners the two-goal cushion they craved and the third sucked the life out of Olympiacos, leaving the Greek champions needing three goals to deny Arsenal a place in the last 16.
The home side never looked capable of it and so Arsène Wenger’s team march on in Europe, qualifying from their group for the 16th consecutive season.