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Gunners need extra ammo

Arsenal, Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk completed a heavyweight line-up for the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday, shrugging off closing-night nerves as the final round of matches was marred by crowd trouble in Slovakia. Sweet sixteen: Who and where | Ups and downs | How they stand

sports Updated: Dec 10, 2010 00:20 IST
Arsenal

Arsenal, Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk completed a heavyweight line-up for the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday, shrugging off closing-night nerves as the final round of matches was marred by crowd trouble in Slovakia.

Arsenal flirted with trouble at 1-1 at home to Partizan Belgrade but a group phase that featured few surprises ended predictably as Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri struck to secure a 3-1 win that saw them qualify in second spot in Group H.

Shakhtar kept Braga at bay before striking twice in the second half themselves for a 2-0 home win that clinched first place ahead of Arsenal, while Roma held on for a drab 1-1 draw at CFR Cluj to qualify behind Bayern Munich in Group F.

The draw for the last 16, to be held on Dec. 17, will feature the might of European club soccer, which may be a worry for Arsenal given that their second-place finish means they could face Barcelona or Real Madrid among the group winners.

Absent from the draw will be Zilina and Spartak Moscow, whose Group F game in Slovakia was held up for 20 minutes when fans launched a firecracker on to the pitch from an end populated by Spartak fans.

Bayern, Chelsea, Olympique Marseille, Real Madrid and AC Milan had already secured their places heading into Wednesday's final matches.

Chelsea, going through a sticky patch in the Premier League, were beaten 1-0 at Olympique Marseille through a Brandao goal nine minutes from time but while the result may provide further concerns for coach Carlo Ancelotti it had no bearing on Group F.

The English side were already assured of qualifying top ahead of their French opponents.

On the other side of the draw, FC Copenhagen claimed the last available place by beating Panathinaikos on Tuesday.

Already qualified for the last 16 from Groups A-D were Tottenham Hotspur, holders Inter Milan, Schalke 04, Olympique Lyon, Manchester United, Valencia and Barcelona.

HOME HOPES
Arsenal's victory over Partizan, who finished bottom of the group without a point, was surprisingly nervy considering they got a good start with a Robin van Persie penalty.

Cleo's equaliser rocked them but two neat finishes from Walcott and Nasri meant they survived the sending-off of Bacary Sagna five minutes from time with equanimity.

England's Premier League will have the strongest presence going forward with four of the 16 teams - three of them from London and sharing the same dream of a "home" final at Wembley next May.

Spain and Italy have three qualifiers each, Germany and France two and Ukraine and Denmark one apiece. The most emphatic winners on the final night were Real Madrid, who helped themselves to a 4-0 win over Auxerre in Group G.