Sanchez strike sends 10-man Arsenal through
Alexis Sanchez’s first Arsenal goal earned his side a nervy 1-0 victory over Besiktas on Wednesday that saw them squeeze into the Champions League for the 17th consecutive season.
The Chilean, Arsenal’s number 17, repaid the first installment of his £30 million ($50.4 million, 37.6 million euros) transfer fee by tucking away a low shot in first-half stoppage time, but the hosts’ inability to kill the game off made for a night of nail-biting tension at the Emirates Stadium.
Mathieu Debuchy’s dismissal for two yellow cards meant that Arsenal saw out the last 15 minutes with 10 men, but although a solitary goal would have been enough to send the Turkish side through after last week’s goalless draw in Istanbul, the hosts held on for a 1-0 aggregate win.
Arsene Wenger’s side, who lost to Bayern Munich in the last 16 last season, will discover the identities of their group-phase opponents in Thursday’s draw.
Arsenal were missing Aaron Ramsey through suspension, while Olivier Giroud’s absence due to an ankle injury saw Sanchez handed another opportunity to prove he can lead the line on his own.
Though Arsenal initially took control, their chances owed more to serendipity than intricate build-up play.
Jack Wilshere slid a shot wide after Sanchez had been bundled over, while Santi Cazorla should have done better than slam the ball wide from 40 yards when visiting goalkeeper TolgaZengin fluffed a kick.
Besiktas, meanwhile, had two penalty appeals waved away, first when Mustafa Pektemek tumbled under a challenge from Debuchy and then when Wilshere needlessly slid in from behind on Ramon Motta.