[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE]
It took a trip to the cauldron that is Istanbul's Sukru Saracoglu Stadium for Arsenal to forget its
nightmare start to the English Premier League season. A 3-0 win over Fenerbahce in the first leg of their playoff series that all but assured the Gunners will return to the group stage of the UEFA
Champions League for a 17th straight season.
All three goals came in the second half. Aaron Ramsey
scored one goal and set up Aaron Gibbs
for another and Frenchman Oliver Giroud
added a late penalty. The performance was a far cry from the 3-1 loss to
Aston Villa at home to start the EPL campaign.
The one constant was the injury bug that has added to concerns about the depth of the Gunners' squad. A head injury forced French center
back Laurent Koscielny
to leave the game in the first half. On Saturday against Aston Villa, young forward Alex
suffered knee ligament damage.
If Fener looked uninspired, it likely had nothing to gain from winning the playoff series. A decision is due next Wednesday on the
club's appeal of UEFA's two-year ban from European ban for game-fixing, and few expect it to win.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport's affirmation of the UEFA ban would meant that
Fenerbahce would be kicked out of the Champions League if it won the series. UCL Playoffs, First Leg Wednesday:
Dinamo Zagreb 0 Austria Vienna 2
Fenerbahce 0 Arsenal 3
Ludogorets Razgrad 1 FC Basel 4
Schalke 04 1 PAOK 1
Steaua Bucharest 1 Legia Warsaw 1 Tuesday:
Shakhter Karagandy 2 Celtic 0
Lyon 0 Real Sociedad 2
Pacos de Ferreira 1 Zenit St.
PSV 1 AC Milan 1
Viktoria Plzen 3 NK Maribor 1