By IAN HOLLIDAY
For roughly 70 minutes on Wednesday, Arsenal looked like it might do the unthinkable: fail to qualify for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League.
The Gunners had taken a 1-0 lead over visiting Serbian club Partizan Belgrade on Robin Van Persie's 30th minute penalty kick, but they never looked comfortable against the group H cellar-dwellers. When Partizan equalized in the 52nd minute, it would have taken just one goal for Braga, which at that point was locked in a scoreless draw with group leaders Shakhtar Donetsk, to send Arsenal home.
Fortunately for the Gunners, events didn't unfold that way. Second-half substitute Theo Walcott immediately enlivened the Arsenal attack, and found the scoresheet with a terriffic volley off of a poor clearance from Partizan in its own area. Samir Nasri added another goal four minutes later to seal the victory.
In the end, Arsenal's heroics were unnecessary, however, as Braga fell 2-0 to Shakhtar on a pair of late strikes from the Ukranian side. These results mean Shakhtar win group H with 15 points, while Arsenal finished second with 12.
Elsewhere in Champions League play:
AS Roma looked like it would win its final group E match against Romanian side CFR Cluj on a 21st minute goal from Marco Boriello, until Lacina Traore found an 88th minute equalizer for Cluj. The point clinched second place in group E for the Roman club, but it turned even a loss would have gotten the job done, as Swiss club FC Basel fell 3-0 at group winners Bayern Munich.
In group F, Marseille defeated an experimental Chelsea side to secure its place in the knockout stage over Spartak Moscow, which also won. AC Milan also fielded a less than full strength squad in its 2-0 loss to Ajax in group G, where
Here is a rundown of all the scores from Wednesday's UEFA Champions League matches:
Bayern Munich 3, FC Basel 0
CFR Cluj 1, AS Roma 1
Marseille 1, Chelsea 0
MSK Zilina 1, Spartak Moscow 2
AC Milan 0, Ajax 2
Real Madrid 4, AJ Auxerre 0
Arsenal 3, Partizan Belgrade 1
Shakhtar Donetsk 2, Braga 0
What did you think of Wednesday's results? Surprised by any of the scores? Impressed by Shakhtar Donetsk winning its group? Share your thoughts below: