Aaron Ramsey Laurent Koscielny Arsenal
Arsenal players Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny applaud the away fans after their 3-0 win over Olympiakos in the UEFA Champions LeagueReuters

Olivier Giroud and Joel Campbell deservedly took most of the plaudits after a couple of stirring performances earned Arsenal a 3-0 victory over Olympiakos, which took them to the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League for the 16th straight season.

However, as far as Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool legend is concerned, it wasn't hat-trick hero Giroud or Campbell, who laid in a sumptuous assist for the second goal, who was the man of the match, but the Arsenal centre-back Laurent Koscielny.

The former Liverpool midfielder believes Koscielny put in one of the great European individual performances, in helping Arsenal a clean sheet.

"Koscielny put in one of the best European defensive performances I've ever seen," Gerrard told BT Sport. "Up there with the [John] Terrys and [Jamie] Carraghers.

"Giroud will get all the headlines but for me Koscielny was man of the match tonight -- last-ditch tackles, big headers."

Gerrard did not stop there in his praise of Koscielny, though, calling the 30-year-old the best centre-back in the league.

"For me, Koscielny is the best defender in the league," Gerrard added. "[Vincent] Kompany isn't fit or consistent enough. You don't want to play against this guy."

Understandably, the entire Arsenal squad were grinning from ear to ear after an impressive performance, which puts them in Monday's last 16 draw, where they could face one of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Zenit St. Petersburg or Wolfsburg.

Arsene Wenger, though, was just a relieved man, having previously thought qualification would be next to impossible after Arsenal lost their first two matches this season -- to Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos.

"We'll see who we get next round, I've not even looked at that," Wenger said. "We were so much out of it that I put all my focus on staying in.

"The kind of performance we produced in a very heated atmosphere was perfect -- on the mental front and the tactical side as well. We needed great character and that kind of performance will certainly make the team stronger.

"We were in escape mode before the game and we needed something special. I told you that it would be the greatest escape. When you do that, it creates a positive memory for the rest of the season.

"Maybe it is a lucky year for us in the Champions League. You never know."

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