Arsene Wenger: Champions League gamble paid off for Arsenal

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Anderlecht 1-2 Arsenal: Wenger surprised by Champions League win

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says his tactical 'gamble' paid dividends as they earned a dramatic Champions League comeback victory at Anderlecht.

The Belgians were leading through Andy Najar's 71st-minute header when Wenger brought on Joel Campbell, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski.

And two goals in the final two minutes from Kieran Gibbs and Podolski earned an unlikely 2-1 win in Brussels.

"It's a gambling situation in these games and it worked," said Wenger.

Arsenal dominated possession without creating many clear-cut chances and were punished when Honduras winger Najar gave Anderlecht the advantage.

And they were fortunate not to fall further behind as Najar and Anthony Vanden Borre wasted chances to double the home side's lead.

"In the last five minutes in the Champions League the nerves play a part and we had to get into these five minutes without conceding a second goal," said Wenger.

"I had hope, it maybe didn't look like it, but it happened.

"The crucial point was when we were 1-0 down and they couldn't take advantage with the chance for the second goal."

Group D results/fixtures
Home/AwayDortmundArsenalAnderlechtGalatasaray
DortmundX2-09 Dec4 Nov
Arsenal26 NovX4 Nov4-1
Anderlecht0-31-2X26 Nov
Galatasaray0-49 Dec1-1X

The Gunners' remarkable fightback leaves them well placed to reach the Champions League knockout phase for the 12th consecutive season.

Second-placed Arsenal have six points at the halfway stage of Group D, three behind German side Borussia Dortmund who have a perfect record of three wins.

Anderlecht's late capitulation - which means they have not won in their last 11 Champions League ties - leaves them five points adrift of Wenger's team ahead of next month's return fixture at Emirates Stadium.

Then, the Gunners host Dortmund on 26 November before their final group game at Galatasaray on 9 December.

"It (the win) was vital for us to have a chance to qualify," said Wenger, who celebrated his 65th birthday on Wednesday.

"We are in a strong position now. It's down to us now. Win our home games and we are through."

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Olympiakos32014406
2Atl Madrid32018356
3Juventus31022203
4Malmö FF310227-53

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Real Madrid330010289
2Ludogorets310234-13
3Liverpool310225-33
4FC Basel310226-43

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1B Leverkusen32015236
2Monaco31201015
3Zenit St Petersburg31112204
4Benfica301215-41

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1B Dortmund33009099
2Arsenal32016426
3Anderlecht301226-41
4Galatasaray301229-71

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Bayern Munich33009189
2Roma311179-24
3Man City302134-12
4CSKA Moscow301238-51

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1PSG32105327
2Barcelona32016426
3Ajax302135-22
4Apoel Nicosia301213-21

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Chelsea32108177
2Schalke31206515
3NK Maribor302128-62
4Sporting301246-21

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1FC Porto321010377
2Shakhtar Donetsk31209275
3BATE Borisov3102214-123
4Ath Bilbao301224-21
View full Champions League tables

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