By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Olivier Giroud has set Arsenal the minimum target of reaching the quarter-finals of this season’s Champions League.
The French striker was the Gunners’ hero in Greece on Wednesday night as he scored a memorable hat-trick to seal a 3-0 win for the visitors and clinch second place in their group.
The against-the-odds victory in one of Europe’s most intimidating arenas means Arsene Wenger’s side have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League for a 16th season in a row.
Giroud stopped short of calling the Gunners contenders to win Europe’s leading competition but has set the team’s sights on improving on their record of the previous three seasons.
“We want to go as far as we can,” the Frenchman told BT Sport Europe afterwards. “The target is to maybe reach the quarter-finals.
“It is the fourth year I’ve been here [at Arsenal] and I’ve never played a quarter-final yet. We missed the chance in the last few years. The Champions League is one level up.”
Arsenal went into their final Champions League group matching needing at least two goals to climb above their Greek hosts to second place in the group.
Giroud set them on their way with a first-half header and added a further two goals in the second half, a left-footed finish and a penalty.
“We are really pleased to go through,” added the Frenchman. “It is nice because we were not in a good place and it was not easy in this stadium with this atmosphere. We feel relieved tonight.”