Arsenal concluded group stage football in the UEFA Champions League atop of Group A courtesy of a Lucas Perez hat-trick in a 4-1 win over F.C. Basel, as Ludogoretz played their part in drawing 2-2 versus 2nd placed Paris Saint-Germain away from home.
A treble from Lucas and a fourth goal picked up by Alex Iwobi set the Gunners up for their first top spot finish in the group stages since the 2009/10 season, meanwhile Seydou Doumbia’s late goal for Basel was unable to blemish a big European night for the north Londoners in Switzerland.
Arsène Wenger’s men took just eight minutes to poke their noses in front; Alexis Sánchez spotting the overlapping run from Kieran Gibbs with a ball over to top to the full back, who remained composed to assist Lucas for a simple tap-in with a pass across goal.
Slick interplay from Sánchez and Mesut Özil allowed the latter to create an opening for Gibbs once more in the 16th minute, with the Englishman’s strike being subsequently cleaned up by Lucas for an early double.
Basel’s response came just moments later from Adama Traoré, whose fierce left-footed strike arced just wide of David Ospina’s far post.
Matías Delgado then found himself with an even better opportunity to threaten the Gunners, but the Argentine’s header with his back to goal flew safely over the target with minutes left until half-time.
Arsenal resumed to hurt Basel in the second period and did so with purpose, once again through the Gibbs – Lucas combo, as a shot across the goal of Tomáš Vaclík from the Spaniard amplified the score to 3-0 in the visitors’ favour.
A wake-up call came soon after when Marc Janko’s glancing header skipped past the far post, but Arsenal were able to breathe even easier come the 53rd minute.
Sánchez’s ball over the top was met by Özil’s direct run, who was able to time the execution of his cut-back that only required Iwobi’s side-footed finish from close range to make it 4-0.
The crossbar then received its own share of action when denying Sánchez’s free kick from flying in, a strike in the 67th minute that could have been the forward’s 14th goal of the season.
The Chilean was replaced soon after for Mohamed Elneny, but it was Arsenal’s other second-half substitute, Olivier Giroud, who neared an instant impact when narrowly missing the target with a toe-poke directed at the near-post in the 73rd minute.
Ex-Newcastle United man Doumbia then lifted the home crowd off its feet for a consolation goal, sending Ospina the wrong way in the 78th minute and concluding the 4-1 score line.