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Arsenal beats Olympiakos 3-0 to qualify with 3 from Giroud

Arsenal beats Olympiakos 3-0 to qualify with 3 from Giroud


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PIRAEUS, Greece (AP) — Olivier Giroud scored a hat trick as Arsenal advanced to the last 16 of the Champions League with a 3-0 win over Olympiakos on Wednesday, overturning an advantage held by the Greeks.

The France striker opened the scoring in the 29th minute, heading home off a cross from Aaron Ramsey, with the ball bouncing under goalkeeper Roberto Gonzalez.

He struck again four minutes after halftime, running through defenders to slot in a pass from former Olympiakos player Joel Campbell.

Olympiakos, which beat Arsenal 3-2 in London, nearly pulled a goal back through Kostas Fortounis, while Ideye Brown missed a point blank chance.

But the game followed Arsenal's script and the deafening crowd at Karaiskakis Stadium was silenced when Omar Elabdellaoui slipped and handled the ball.

Giroud again beat Gonzalez from the resulting penalty to seal the match and second place behind Bayern Munich in Group F.

"We are very pleased to go through," the 29-year-old Giroud said. "It was not easy to come here with this atmosphere ... We were not in a good position, but we did it."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he was proud the way his players overcame the odds.

"We needed to be strong mentally and show character. And we did that," he said. "From the first to the last minute we were a good team and I'm very proud of them."

Olympiakos had only needed a draw or a low-scoring decfeat to make it through, but gave credit to the Premier League club.

"We started well and denied them, especially in the first 20 minutes," Olympiakos coach Marco Silva said. "But the first goal affected the rest of the match. We kept trying to create chances. In the end though, you have to look our opponent and say: Tonight they were excellent."

Bayern Munich beat Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 away in the group's other match.

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