Napoli 0-1 (0-3 on agg.) Arsenal
In his 50th game as coach for Arsenal, this was a memorable evening for Unai Emery.
A place in the semi-finals of the Europa League – a competition he has won three times – secured with something to spare and a tie now against one of his former foes in Valencia.
The us Europa League 2019 betting odds on an all-English final next month grow closer.
Highlights of the game
The Partenopei have strong European home form this season and dream of emulating their UEFA Cup triumph of 30 years ago.
Although Napoli knew the task in front of them as they trailed following last week’s first leg. Arsenal absorbed home pressing early on with relative comfort and it took an important block by Allan to prevent the hosts falling behind.
Had they scored first, it would have been game on – and they went close a few times.
In the 17th minute, Kalidou Koulibaly started the move which led to Jose Callejon being denied the opener by Petr Cech.
Arkadiusz Milik had a goal disallowed, flagged for offside (there is no VAR in operation in this tournament), and then sent a header wide from a Piotr Zielinski ball.
Alex Meret got behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s shot before the Gunners suffered a blow when Aaron Ramsey pulled up with a hamstring injury.
However, no sooner had he been replaced by Henrikh Mkhitaryan – a winner of this competition two seasons ago – then the crucial goal arrived.
Alexandre Lacazette’s free-kick was well executed, but the Napoli wall and its positioning will have disappointed boss Carlo Ancelotti.
A Zielinski shot charged down on the stroke of half-realistically signalled that any chance of a comeback was over.
Two fine saves by Meret– one for the Europa League 2019 highlights collection – kept out Aubameyang early in the second period and there was more home frustration as Dries Mertens bundled the ball home at the other end only to be once more ruled out by the offside flag.
Over 2.05 @ 2.08 Arsenal Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 2.14 1X2 Arsenal @ 2.50 Third Line text CLICK HEREDisclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.Premier League
Their spirited efforts remained as Milik’s goal-bound effort was deflected away by Laurent Koscielny and the same player should have done better after an attempt from a Mario Rui cross before Koulibaly nodded wide but realistically the home side knew the game was up.
Unbeaten at home in Europe this term and with an impressive record at the Stadio San Paolo, this was one game where they rarely looked like salvaging once Lacazette had extended Arsenal’s advantage.
They are two games away from a first European final since 2006.
Arsenal have now won six of their last 10 matches in Italy.
Since his debut for Arsenal in August 2017, Lacazette has had a hand in 46 goals in all competitions (33 goals, 13 assists), more than any other player for the club.
Napoli have been knocked out each of the last nine times they lost the first leg stretching back to a turnaround against Juventus in the 1989 UEFA Cup quarter-final.
This was Napoli’s 50th match in the Europa League – the 12th club to reach that landmark.
Arsenal have won six of their seven knockout ties in Europa League in the last two seasons. Before that, they had lost in the Champions League round of 16 in seven successive seasons.
Until tonight, Napoli had won five of their seven home fixtures against Premier League opposition, including against Liverpool in this season’s Champions League group stage, Swansea City in Naples in their 2014 UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie, and Chelsea in the 2012 Champions League round of 16.
The Gunners have won both of their previous European quarter-finals against Serie A opposition without conceding a goal – 1-0 on aggregate against Torino (0-0 away, 1-0 home) en route to their 1994 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup triumph, when they defeated another Italian club, Parma, 1-0 in the Copenhagen final, and 2-0 on aggregate against Juventus in the 2006 UEFA Champions League (2-0 home, 0-0 away).
Napoli have won only three of the 13 UEFA competition ties in which they have lost the first leg away, suffering elimination on the last five occasions.
Ancelotti coached Arsenal goalkeeper Cech at Chelsea and was the Real Madrid boss when the Spanish club sold Mesut Özil to Arsenal in September 2013.
Unai Emery with Aaron Ramsey in the sideline
Napoli host Atalanta on Easter Monday before a trip to Frosinone on April 28 as they aim to secure the runners-up spot in Serie A.
The Gunners’ hectic schedule continues by hosting Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Easter Day followed by a trip to Wolves next midweek.
CHECK OUT OUR BLOG FOR MORE FOOTBALL STORIES & ODDS
Stay updated with everything sports and betting.
Follow us on social Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.