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Arsenal squeezes past Besiktas to qualify for Champions League group stage

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez, left, celebrates with team mate Jack Wilshere after scoring a goal against Besiktas during their Champions League playoff soccer match at the Emirates stadium in London August 27, 2014.

EDDIE KEOGH/REUTERS

Alexis Sanchez scored his first Arsenal goal as the Premier League club held on with 10 men to squeeze past Besiktas 1-0 and qualify for the Champions League group stage for the 17th consecutive season.

The Chile striker, who joined from Barcelona in July for 35 million pounds (then $60 million), netted on the stroke of halftime in the playoff after a scoreless away leg.

Arsenal has been in the group stage every season since 1998-99, and Athletic Bilbao is back for the first time since then after beating Napoli 3-1 to go through 4-2 on aggregate.

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Malmo will be Sweden's first group stage representative in 14 years after beating Salzburg 3-0 to advance 4-2 on aggregate.

Bayer Leverkusen routed FC Copenhagen 4-0 after winning 3-2 away.

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