Mesut Ozil scored a hat-trick as Arsenal surged closer to a place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a 6-0 hammering of Ludogorets on Wednesday.
Having drawn with Paris Saint-Germain and beaten Basel, Arsene Wenger’s men retained top spot in Group A as they easily put Ludogorets to the sword, Ozil starring while Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also found the net.
Sanchez’s marvellous lob opened the scoring after 12 minutes, with Walcott’s eighth goal of the season making it 2-0 shortly before half-time.
Oxlade-Chamberlain struck in the 46th minute to kill off any remaining Ludogorets hope, and it was plain sailing from that point onwards.
Ozil added a fourth 10 minutes later, with two further efforts from the German in the final 10 minutes of normal time completing the rout.
Arsenal will progress from Group A should they replicate the victory in the reverse fixture in Bulgaria and PSG avoid defeat against Ludogorets.
The hosts consistently found space in behind the visiting defence early on and, after Oxlade-Chamberlain fired wide, he set Sanchez away for the opener.
The Chilean took Oxlade-Chamberlain’s pass down the left channel and evaded one defender before delicately lifting a fine effort over Vladislav Stoyanov and into the far corner.
Ludogorets did threaten, however, with David Ospina required to deny Wanderson’s blast at the near post. Jonathan Cafu then rounded the goalkeeper, but spurned the chance with a tame shot back across goal.
The outside of the post prevented Wanderson from levelling with a low drive after Opsina had thwarted Virgil Misidjan’s initial effort.
Walcott found himself in the clear at the other end, only to see Stoyanov make a smart stop, yet the England winger gave the hosts breathing space three minutes before the break.
Ozil appeared to overhi
t his cross, but Walcott checked his run and curled home from around 25 yards.
Stoyanov was called upon again prior to the interval as he kept out Sanchez’s close-range header.
Within seconds of the restart, though, Arsenal extended their advantage to move out of sight.
Some magical close control from Sanchez created a crossing opportunity for Kieran Gibbs, and when a low delivery fell kindly for Oxlade-Chamberlain, the 23-year-old tucked a finish into the bottom-right corner.
A fourth soon followed as Ozil slid home after latching on to a magnificent ball over the top from Santi Cazorla.
Stoyanov responded by getting down to repel Oxlade-Chamberlain’s volley, but he was helpless as Ozil added his second and Arsenal’s fifth.
Lucas Perez accelerated onto a pass in behind, with his cross finding Ozil unmarked at the back post for a simple finish.
And Ozil then added his third to round off the scoring as he met Perez’s ball in from the edge of the area with a fierce volley that left Stoyanov with no chance.
Key Opta Facts:
– Arsenal’s win was their 100th in all European competition under Arsene Wenger.
– Mesut Ozil scored his first hat-trick for Arsenal in any competition and he is the fifth player to score one in the Champions League for the Gunners.
– Theo Walcott has scored three Champions League goals this season, already his best return in a single season in the competition.
– Ozil’s assist for Walcott’s goal was his first in 10 games in all competitions for Arsenal this season.
– This game marked the first time since October 2000 that two English players scored in a Champions League match for Arsenal (Ray Parlour and Lee Dixon vs Sparta Prague).