Arsenal not out of the woods despite sealing qualification
(Yaya Sanogo 2, Alexis Sanchez 57)
BORUSSIA DORTMUND 0
How Arsenal and Arsene Wenger needed this result.
It was not just a 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund, it was a comfortable 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund.
It was not just qualification for the knockout stage of the Champions League, it was the 15th consecutive qualification for the knockout stage of the Champions League.
This was a most serendipitous time for Wenger (right) to highlight his historical consistency.
Arsenal took the lead after just 75 seconds, through the unlikely figure of Yaya Sanogo, and then did something they have struggled with all season: They held on to it.
Supporting Arsenal is a most stressful past-time but, the locals, wrapped up against a dank north London night, were able to enjoy themselves for once.
For this comfort, there are certain caveats.
Dortmund have slumped this season. They linger just above the relegation zone in the Bundesliga and, although there have been signs of recovery at home and there were hitherto no signs of a slump in Europe, they looked a poor side yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Perhaps the knowledge that their own qualification had already been achieved dampened their spirits.
It certainly didn't take the edge off manager Juergen Klopp, a constant presence on the sidelines where he harangued his team for their lack of dynamism.
If Wenger is painted as being a man out of time and a relic of the past, Klopp is supposed to represent the exciting future.
Last week, he revealed that he could see himself moving to the Premier League at some point in his career.
Arsenal, a club with a passion for flair and youth, would be a perfect match.
But, if this was Klopp's job interview, he fluffed it. Arsenal have rarely looked so relaxed all season.
Arsenal fans must have feared the worst when they saw Sanogo's name on the teamsheet.
On the bench, Lukas Podolski simply had it confirmed.
His place in the pecking order has never been made so clear.
A World Cup winner, a former Bayern Munich striker and he can't get into the team, ahead of a raw young striker without an Arsenal goal to his name.
It would have been little consolation that Sanogo's drought would last little more than another minute.
There is a player in Sanogo somewhere. There is a disconnect between his limbs and his brain, but when consensus is reached, real talent emerges.
He held the ball up well in the Dortmund area, juggling it before laying it off for Santi Cazorla, picking up the return ball and poking it past Roman Weidenfeller.
Only a heart of stone would have failed to soar when Sanogo emerged from the melee, his face contorted with unconfined joy.
The game that followed was aesthetically pleasing, but it was not exciting.
Dortmund never seemed to have the heart for the fight and Sanogo, his miracle complete, soon fluffed another chance and faded from view.
Arsenal should have doubled the lead in the second half when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain smashed a shot off the woodwork.
They eventually scored through Alexis Sanchez, one of the few players not to have let Arsenal down this season, a ferocious ranged effort that left Weidenfeller scrambling in desperation.
Wenger was smiling again at the end, something that hasn't been seen for a while.
After three bad games against Anderlecht, Swansea and Manchester United, he could have been forgiven for expecting the worst.
This win buys him a little more time to prove the existence of the quality he has always insisted lurks here.
Now he needs to translate the European form to the league and clamber back up the table.
This was a respite, but it's not a recovery yet.