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Published: 11:54 | 17/12/15

Giroud fires Arsenal into last 16


A hat-trick from Olivier Giroud sent Arsenal through to the Champions League last 16 as they beat Olympiakos 3-0 in Athens.

The France international was the hero for this injury-hit Gunners side, breaking the deadlock just before the half-hour mark when he headed home Aaron Ramsey's pinpoint cross.

The Greek champions had had the better of the opening exchanges without creating any clearcut chances and their response to going behind was one of a side with little confidence in their ability to get the desired result.

Needing to win by any scoreline except 1-0 or 2-1 to leapfrog their opponents into the second qualifying spot in Group F, Arsene Wenger's side were on course to just that when Giroud bagged his second just after the break.

The game was then effectively over when Giroud swept home from the penalty spot with 23 minutes remaining after Omar Elabdellaoui was a little harshly penalised for handball.

Arsenal march on to the knockout stages while Olympiakos must make do with Europa League football, and the former will be hoping to avoid one of Europe's big guns if they are to progress further in the competition.

The English side made a slow start to the match with Seba firing over an early chance over for the home side.

Olympiakos continued to be the dominant side and former Fulham midfielder Pajtim Kasami had an opportunity but he wildly missed the target.

The Gunners improved as the half went on, and came close to taking the lead on 25 minutes when Mathieu Flamini struck the crossbar, while Giroud was denied by Olympiacos keeper Roberto from a header.

Arsenal took the lead on 29 minutes, when Ramsey picked out Giroud with an inviting cross, before the French striker headed past Roberto.

The lead was doubled when Joel Campbell evaded a couple of challenges before feeding Giroud with a superb pass and the striker finished clinically into the bottom corner.

Giroud had his hat-trick when he stroked home confidently from the penalty spot on 67 minutes to kill off any hopes of a comeback and Arsenal cruised through the rest of the game and into the next round.

Chelsea meanwhile eased into the knockout stages with a routine 2-0 victory over Porto at Stamford Bridge. Jose Mourinho's side were fortunate with the opener as Diego Costa's low shot was saved by Porto keeper Iker Casillas but the ball rebounded off Ivan Marcano past him into the back of the net.

Porto, needing to win to join Chelsea in the last 16, never threatened to get the result they required and Chelsea's win ensured they topped Group G.

Willian put the game beyond the Portuguese side by thumping in a fierce shot from 20 yards past Casillas on 52 minutes.

The Blues created plenty of opportunities in the final 15 minutes, exploiting the space left behind as Porto chased an improbable comeback at Stamford Bridge but had to make do with a two-goal win, a result which will delight their under-pressure manager.

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