Post-Match Report

Napoli 0-1 Arsenal (0-3 agg): How it happened

Lacazette

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                  Lacazette (36)
            
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Arsenal
Lacazette (36)

WHAT HAPPENED

A peach of a free-kick from Alex Lacazette completed our Italian job and sent us into the semi-finals of the Europa League.

The France striker - who led the line impressively - drew a foul 25 yards out and took on the task ahead of Granit Xhaka. It proved an inspired decision - Lacazette’s curling strike whistled past goalkeeper Alex Meret.

It gave us a much-prized away goal and left Napoli needing four. That was a mountain they never looked like climbing, despite the passionate support of the San Paolo crowd.

We settled quickly in a hostile atmosphere but needed a good stop from Petr Cech to keep out Jose Callejon after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got caught on the ball outside the Napoli area.

That lightning break gave Napoli encouragement and they did briefly push us back.

An injury to the influential Aaron Ramsey gave them renewed hope - but it was almost immediately dashed by Lacazette’s intervention.

From that point on it was about staying calm and keeping mistakes to a minimum. Napoli did have their half-chances but their lack of cutting edge let them down.

We were happy to contain the hosts and look for chances on the break, and it took a fine save from Meret to deny Aubameyang from point-blank range after good work from Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

FOUR THINGS WE NOTICED

An Arsenal classic, Laca not Xhaka, ‘lotta e vinci’ and Unai knows in Europe

HOW IT HAPPENED

Catch up with our play-by-play commentary for the full story of our quarter-final in Naples

WHAT IT MEANS

It means we march on in the Europa League, and it means a semi-final encounter with Valencia.

The Spanish club has a number of Arsenal connections: Unai Emery used to coach there, Shkodran Mustafi used to play there, and Valencia’s current squad includes former Gunners Francis Coquelin and Gabriel.

TEAM NEWS

Emery made five changes and opted for a back three for this trip to southern Italy.

Lacazette returned to lead the line and Aubameyang kept his place, but Mesut Ozil dropped to the bench.

Cech was back in goal and a defensive reshuffle saw Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Sead Kolasinac stationed outside Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal and Sokratis.

The latter is serving a domestic suspension but is eligible for the Europa League.

Denis Suarez (groin), Rob Holding (knee), Danny Welbeck (ankle) and Hector Bellerin (knee) did not travel.

WHAT’S NEXT

The games are coming thick and fast in April and we’re back in Premier League action on Easter Sunday when Crystal Palace visit Emirates Stadium.