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Arsenal tops Udinese to reach CL group stage

After enduring a tough couple of weeks, needed boost with a 2-1 win at Udinese on Wednesday in the second leg of their Champions League playoff.

The result gives Arsenal a 3-1 win on aggregate, but it wasn't always easy as Udinese's Antonio Di Natale struck the post in the 23rd minute before opening the scoring six minutes prior to halftime with a looping header from 12 yards.

The goal leveled the aggregate score at 1-1, but Robin Van Persie scored a vital away goal in the 55th minute as Gervinho got to the end line on the left wing and pulled the ball back for Van Persie to finish off six yards from goal.

Udinese almost answered within minutes when a handball inside the Arsenal penalty area gave Di Natale the chance to double his goal tally on the day. However, his spot kick was hit to the right of goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who guessed correctly and tipped it over the net.

It was a huge save from the Arsenal 'keeper and it allowed Theo Walcott to put the result away 20 minutes from time.

Bacary Sagna played Walcott down the left wing and into the area, where he beat goalkeeper Samir Handanovic at the near post.

Rubin 1, Lyon 1

Kazan, Russia - Lyon booked a spot in the group stage of the Champions League after securing a 1-1 draw against Rubin in Russia on Wednesday.

The French side brought a 3-1 advantage into the match from the first leg, and Rubin wasn't able to open the scoring until the 77th minute, with Bebars Natcho finding the net.

Rubin needed another goal to advance, but instead Lyon secured passage with a goal three minutes from time through Babary Kone.

Benfica 3, Twente 1

Lisbon, Portugal - A pair of goals from Axel Witsel propelled Benfica into the group stage with a 3-1 second-leg win over Twente.

The two sides finished 2-2 in the Netherlands in the opening leg, but Benfica took charge in the second half of the match on Wednesday, scoring three goals in the opening 20 minutes of the second half.

Witsel scored just after the break to hand his team the lead before Luisao doubled the advantage in the 59th minute.

Witsel tallied another goal to stretch the lead to 3-0, while Bryan Ruiz got Twente on the scoreboard with a goal five minutes from time.

The result leaves Benfica with a 5-3 win on aggregate.

Plzen 2, FC Copenhagen 1

Plzen, Czech Republic - Second-half goals from Marek Bakos and Michal Duris helped Plzen to a 2-1 win over FC Copenhagen in the second leg of their Champions League playoff on Wednesday.

With the win, Plzen advances to the group stage with a 5-2 aggregate win after securing a 3-1 win in the first leg.

The Danish side narrowed the gap in the first half with a goal from Cristian Navarro Bolanos that put them ahead in the second leg.

But needing another goal in order to advance, Copenhagen was hit with two goals in the final 23 minutes to ensure that they will not be taking part in the group stage of the Champions League.

BATE Borisov 2, Sturm Graz 0

Graz, Austria - BATE Borisov claimed a 3-1 aggregate win over Sturm Graz on Wednesday with a 2-0 triumph in the second leg on the road.

BATE seized the lead through Alexander Volodko in the 36th minute and put itself into the next round when Marko Simic doubled the advantage 20 minutes from time.