Alexis Sanchez Jack Wilshere Arsenal
Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez celebrates with Jack Wilshere after scoring the winner against Besiktas in their Champions League gameReuters

In many ways, it was like a replay of the first leg in Istanbul – Besiktas showing some real quality and fight, and Arsenal pouring forward and missing a few chances, with a red card in the second half for the English Premier League side giving the Turkish team a real chance at creating a huge upset.

There was only one difference, though – Alexis Sanchez, and his right boot, to stroke home his first Arsenal goal and with that put his side through to the Champions League group stages after an intense, there-is-no-way-you're-going-to-have-nails-after-that second leg at the Emirates.

The Gunners certainly like to do it the hard way, and the hard way they did, with Sanchez putting the home team in the lead right on the stroke of halftime, before Arsene Wenger's men missed a few chances which would have put the game to bed.

Besiktas showed plenty of attacking prowess, without perhaps the final ball, and were given more impetus to find that goal, which would have put them instead of their opponents into the UCL group stages, when Mathieu Debuchy was given his marching orders on 75 minutes.

However, Arsenal showed that spirit and fight, they have shown quite often this season already, again, to see off an inspired Besiktas and put their name in the hat for Thursday's Champions League draw.

Arsenal, after nearly being found out early in the first leg, looked to take the game to Besiktas in the first minutes at the Emirates, knowing how important that early goal is.

They could and probably should have gone into the lead within the first ten minutes as well, with Jack Wilshere missing a wonderful chance, sliding his shot from 15 yards wide, before Santi Cazorla, with an open goal gaping, missed the target as well, albeit from quite a distance, after a poor clearance from goalkeeper Tolga Zengin.

Besiktas, without their manager Slaven Bilic on the touchline, slowly grew into the game, and Demba Ba nearly made his presence felt, just failing to get to a through ball ahead of Wojciech Szczesny.

The Turkish side were yet again enterprising when they pressed that forward button, and had it not been for some last-ditch defending from the Gunners, the scoreline might well have been different.

The away team also had a couple of penalty claims turned down, which on another day would have gone their way, with Arsenal showing a bit of nervousness at times at the back, despite having both Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny together in central defence.

Arsenal found it difficult to break down the Besiktas defence, with the Turkish side having plenty of men behind the ball, and also, intelligently pressing when they saw an opportunity to dispossess their opponents.

The best outlet for the home side was down the right with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Debuchy combining well on a few occasions, even if nothing was made out of the crosses that followed.

It was always going to be a slick one-touch move which would unlock this stubborn Besiktas defence, and Wilshere, always driving, never stopping, provided the inspiration, playing a one-two with Mesut Ozil on the edge of the Besiktas penalty area with the ball eventually falling to Alexis Sanchez, who made no mistake with the finish, slotting the ball past Zengin.

Sanchez's first goal for Arsenal would have come as a big relief for the Chilean, yet again playing as the central striker, after he missed a nice chance a little earlier on, with a heavy first touch, off a beautiful through ball from Wilshere, killing the chance.

The goal also came at the perfect time, with Arsenal nervousness, which was growing, vanishing with that swing of the right boot, and Besiktas not left with any time to try and get an equaliser before the halftime whistle.

Arsenal went into all-out attack mode from minute one of the second 45, and another piece of brilliance, first from Oxlade-Chamberlain, and then from Wilshere opened up a chance for Sanchez to bag a brace, but the forward's shot from eight yards, which looked destined to go in, just took a nick off a Besiktas player and whistled wide.

Wilshere was clearly in the mood now, almost seeming to unshackle himself in the absence of Aaron Ramsey, and the midfielder's unrelenting running and pin-point passes kept troubling the Besiktas defence.

Besiktas, after seeing the initial attacking phase from Arsenal in the first ten minutes or so, like they did in the first half, grew stronger, putting the home team's defence under some intense pressure. However, clear-cut chances kept coming at the other end, with Arsenal looking dangerous on the break time and again.

Oxlade-Chamberlain had the best of the bunch, directing a nice low cross from Monreal straight to the Besiktas goalkeeper, when he really should have found the back of the net. Such is the nature of the game, that seconds later, instead of Arsenal being 2-0 up and killing the game of, they stayed 1-0 in the lead but a man down, with Debuchy, who was brilliant all game, given a harsh second yellow card for a challenge on Mustafa Pektemek, very much in the manner that Ramsey saw red in the first leg.

With 15 minutes to go, suddenly Besiktas, who would go through if they made it 1-1, were given a massive lifeline, with all hands on pump at the back for Arsenal. Those hands, feet and heads eventually showed enough resolve, though, to hold off the final Besiktas charge to make it into the Champions League group stage for the 17th straight season.

Results: Arsenal 1-0 Besiktas (1-0 on aggregate); Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 FC Copenhagen (7-2 on aggregate); Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Napoli (4-2 on aggregate); Malmo 3-0 Salzburg (4-2 on aggregate).

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