Arsene Wenger admitted “great players make the right decisions” after fearing Mesut Ozil had initially blown the chance to score a dramatic late Arsenal winner against Ludogorets in the Champions League.
Having battled back from an early two-goal deficit to draw level before the break, the Premier League side struggled to open up their Bulgarian opponents in the second half in Sofia.
However, Ozil produced a moment of individual brilliance in the 87th minute to clinch a 3-2 win that keeps Arsenal top of Group A, albeit they are only ahead of Paris Saint-Germain on goal difference, and safely through to the last 16.
Played through on goal, the Germany international lifted the ball over goalkeeper Milan Borjan before dummying his way beyond two defenders to score into an empty net.
“You know, I would say the great players make the right decisions in the game situations they face. They always make the optimal solution,” Wenger told the club’s official website.
“To me it didn’t look for a while like the optimal solution, but when the ball was in the net I thought it was!
“You wanted him to take maybe his chance earlier but at the end he had enough skill to prove that he was right.”
Ludogorets were denied from scoring a third goal in the second half by David Ospina, as the goalkeeper made a crucial block to deny Wanderson converting a one-on-one opportunity.
Wenger once again opted to select the Colombia international in European competition, leaving Petr Cech on the bench ahead of Sunday’s derby against Tottenham.
“It is good that we have two excellent goalkeepers and this game proved why we need them,” the Arsenal manager told UEFA.com.
As well as picking Ospina, Wenger also handed fit-again midfielder Aaron Ramsey his first start since the 4-3 defeat to Liverpool on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.
The Welshman set up Giroud’s equalising goal as he played 75 minutes on his comeback before being replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
“We made a sloppy start, but Ludogorets are a good team,” Ramsey said.
“It is a great that we have qualified for the knockout stage and now we have the big game against Paris to decide the top place.”