Soccer: Arsenal into Champs League group stage

Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, left, celebrates his second goal against Fenerbahce with teammate Yaya Sanogo during their Champions League qualifying play-off second leg soccer match. Photo / AP
Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, left, celebrates his second goal against Fenerbahce with teammate Yaya Sanogo during their Champions League qualifying play-off second leg soccer match. Photo / AP

Arsenal made sure of a 16th consecutive appearance in soccer's Champions League group stage this morning (NZT), while German outfit Schalke joined them with a dramatic win in Greece.

The Gunners already had more than one foot in Thursday's group-stage draw after easing to a 3-0 win against Fenerbahce in Istanbul in last week's first leg, but they finished the job in style and Aaron Ramsey starred again.

The Welshman netted in the first leg and scored both goals in the return at the Emirates Stadium, rolling the ball into an empty net in the 25th minute after Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott combined to set him up.

Ramsey then grabbed his second on the night in the 72nd minute with a superb first-time finish on a volley from a Kieran Gibbs assist.

That gave Arsenal a 2-0 win on the night and progress 5-0 on aggregate, but the loss of Podolski to injury at the start of the second half took some gloss off a fine evening's work for Arsene Wenger's side.

With Ramsey also going off before the final whistle with a groin problem, pressure will mount on Wenger to buy before the transfer window closes.

"We played a heavy price on the injury front because we lost Podolski. I don't know how bad Ramsey is. I don't know how Wilshere responds to an ankle problem," said Wenger.

"He (Wilshere) looks all right. But Podolski is definitely out for 21 days and Ramsey we have to check how severe his groin is tomorrow (Wednesday)."

Semi-finalists in 2011 and knocked out in the last 16 last season, Schalke also returned to the group stage after getting the better of Greek club PAOK.

PAOK held the upper hand after a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Germany, but lost some of their advantage playing at home behind closed doors.

The German team clinched a 3-2 win on the night to progress 4-3 on aggregate.

Elsewhere, 1986 European champions Steaua Bucharest of Romania returned to the group stage for the first time since 2008-09 after sneaking past Legia Warsaw on away goals.

Swiss champions Basel beat Bulgaria's Ludogorets Razgrad 2-0 for a 6-2 aggregate success, while Austria Vienna finished with a 4-3 aggregate victory against Dinamo Zagreb.

The remaining play-off ties will be played on Wednesday, including AC Milan v PSV Eindhoven, Real Sociedad v Lyon and Celtic v Shakhter Karagandy of Kazakhstan, with the Scots looking to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit.

-AAP

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 29 Jul 2014 04:28:03 Processing Time: 609ms