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Arsenal hit four past AZ Alkmaar as Standard Liege stun Olympiakos.
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2009 23:51 GMT

Arsenal's Samir Nasri celebrates a sublime goal [AFP]
Arsenal advanced to the knockout round of the Uefa Champions League after beating AZ Alkmaar 4-1 with two goals from captain Cesc Fabregas.

Samir Nasri and Abou Diaby also scored for the Gunners at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal lead Group H with 10 points.

Despite the loss, AZ still has a chance to qualify from its last two matches because second-place Olympiakos lost 2-0 to Standard Liege.

The Dutch team has two points, Olympiakos has six and Liege has five.

Fabregas' weak shot in the 25th minute should have been stopped by goalkeeper Sergio Romero but beat him at the near post.

Romero seemed surprised by Fabregas' shot and was slow to dive to his right, barely getting his fingertips on the ball.

Fabregas' first goal spurred AZ into action and the Dutch side pressed the ball further up the pitch.

Maarten Martens surged forward in the 30th minute with a good run, but his shot was easily caught by Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, his first save of the night.

Two minutes later, midfielder Brett Holman fired a shot from distance but the ball swerved wide.

Arsenal's second goal came just before halftime when Nasri collected a throughball from Andrei Arshavin.

The France midfielder shrugged off a defender and curled a low shot past Romero, who again got his fingers to the ball.

It was Nasri's second appearance in all competitions this season since returning from a broken leg he sustained in preseason training.

Fabregas double

Fabregas scored his second in the 52nd minute after AZ conceded possession and Arshavin's throughball found the Spain international, who curled a shot over Romero.

AZ nearly scored five minutes later when Graziano Pelle latched onto a deep cross and his shot from close range struck the crossbar.

A quick counterattack led to Arsenal's fourth goal, after Eduardo da Silva's backheel flick found Arshavin.

The Russia international blazed down the right before squaring a pass to Diaby on the left who fired a shot past Romero.

AZ pulled one back in the 82nd minute on a counterattack, with second-half
substitute Jeremain Lens firing a low shot past Almunia.

The victory allows Arsenal to focus on the Premier League until the knockout round begins in February, despite having two Group H matches remaining.

It was the first time that AZ manager Ronald Koeman lost against Arsenal in six matches dating back to 2003.

In 2007, Koeman was manager of PSV Eindhoven when it eliminated Arsenal from the first knockout round of the Champions League.

Liege enjoy maiden win

Dieudonne Mbokani scored one goal and set up the other to help Standard Liege beat Olympiakos 2-0 for its first win in this year's Champions League campaign.

Mbokani gave his team the lead in the 31st minute, and then crossed to forward Milan Jovanovic who headed in the second in 88th.

The win gives Liege four points in four games in Group H. Olympiakos remained in second place behind Arsenal with six points.

Mbokani had to muscle his way past defender Olof Mellberg before he could shoot past goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis for his first Champions League goal.

Mbokani's goal awoke Liege's attack, Jovanovic, Eliaquim Mangala and Mehdi Carcela all having several scoring chances in the last 15 minutes of the first half.

Carcela came close to making it 2-0 in the 40th minute when his long-range attempt hit the crossbar.

Jovanovic sealed the win in the 88th with his second Champions League goal, heading beyond Nikopolidis from a pass from Mbokani.

Despite controlling most of possession, Olympiakos failed to consistently challenge goalkeeper Sinan Bolat.

Olympiakos nearly equalized in the 60th, but Mellberg's attempt on goal from a long pass by Enzo Maresca was easily dealt with by Bolat.

Source:
Agencies
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