Arsenal's Chilean newcomer scores only goal of playoff's return leg to ensure Wenger's boys scrape their way into the Champions League
London: Alexis Sanchez's first Arsenal goal earned his side a nervy 1-0 victory over Besiktas on Wednesday that saw them squeeze into the Champions League for the 17th consecutive season.
Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez (left) shoots to score against Besiktas during the second leg of their UEFA Champions League qualifier at the Emirates Stadium in London on Wednesday. Arsenal won 1-0 and progressed on aggregate as the first leg had ended 0-0. Pic/Getty Images
The Chilean, Arsenal's number 17, repaid the first installment of his Â£30 million ($50.4 million, 37.6 million euros) transfer fee by tucking away a low shot in first-half stoppage time, but the hosts' inability to kill the game off made for a night of nail-biting tension at the Emirates Stadium.
Mathieu Debuchy's dismissal for two yellow cards meant that Arsenal saw out the last 15 minutes with 10 men, but although a solitary goal would have sent the Turkish side through after last week's goalless draw in Istanbul, the hosts held on for a 1-0 aggregate win.
"We produced the performance we wanted — on the tactical side, on the technical side, and on the mental side," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who revealed that striker Olivier Giroud will be out for up to four months after undergoing surgery on a broken tibia.
"We were at the level that was requested tonight against a good team, but we couldn't finish the game off and that made it nervous in the last 10 minutes when we were down to 10 men," added Wenger, whose side lost to Bayern Munich in the last 16 last season.
"Of course we are gutted, because we played good in both games and were close to qualifying for the Champions League against great opponents. We had a couple of scoring chances but missed," Besiktas coach Slaven Bilic told Sky Sports.
The amount (in GBP) Arsenal paid as transfer fees to bring Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez to London from Barcelona