Champions League: Arsenal Secures Last 16 Spot

Robin van Persie carried Arsenal into the Champions League Round of 16 with two goals in the Gunners’ 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

Van Persie opened the scoring in the 49th minute with a header of an Alex Song cross then added a tap-in four minutes before the 90-minute mark to make Arsenal the first English team to enter the knockout phase. Shinji Kagawa scored for Dortmund in injury time to avoid a shut out defeat for the German champions. With 11 points in five matches, Arsenal is now the Group F winner.

Also advancing Wednesday were Barcelona and Leverkusen in highly competitive matches against AC Milan and Chelsea, respectively. In a tight battle, Barcelona drew first blood with a Mark van Bommel own goal in the 14th minute, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic quickly equalized in the 20-minute mark. Lionel Messi gave Barcelona back the lead with a penalty kick in the 31st before Kevin-Prince Boateng leveled the score again in the 54th minute. However, Xavi Hernandez clinched the victory for Barcelona with a 63rd-minute goal. Barcelona thus secured the Group H leadership, while Milan also advanced by finishing runner-up in the group.

Meanwhile, Leverkusen relied on a Manuel Friedrich goal in the 90th minute to upset Chelsea, 2-1. Didier Drogba had given the Blues the lead shortly after the break, but Eren Derdiyok equalized in the 73rd minute. Chelsea must now defeat Valencia to ensure safe passage to the next round, although the English team can still enter the Round of 16 even if they draw with the Spanish squad as long as Leverkusen gets at least a draw against Genk in their final matches.