Champions League - Arsenal through despite loss to unlucky Napoli

Champions League, Stadio San Paolo - Napoli 2 (Higuain 73, Callejon 90) Arsenal 0

Ten-man Arsenal qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League despite going down 2-0 at Napoli.

In the first half, Napoli chased Arsenal in their own half to keep the away side under pressure, forcing Wojciech Szczesny into an error when he chipped a clearance that Gonzalo Higuain headed wide. Before that, Goran Pandev had an effort easily stopped, and Jose Callejon curled a shot just over.

Arsenal fared little better, with Olivier Giroud finding space on the left to shoot which Rafael Cabral easily palmed away - the Gunners struggling to impose themselves.

In the second half, Napoli grew in stature, and exacted ever-more pressure with shots from Pablo Armero, Callejon and Higuain.

Then, in the 73rd minute, Higuain collected a Callejon pass on the edge of the box, spun his marker and shot past Szczesny to put Napoli ahead and give his side hope.

Three minutes later, it was worse for Arsenal when Mikel Arteta committed a pointless tackle from behind on Callejon, earning himself a second yellow card. Napoli had the advantage, and needed to score two more goals to progress.

In the very last minute of the game, Callejon lifted the ball over the keeper for Napoli's second, but they had left it too late to qualify. Arsenal, on the other hand, had done just enough.

KEY MOMENTS

9’ - PANDEV CHANCE: Pandev gets to a through ball on the left, but he can only shoot straight at Szczesny.

23’ - CABRAL SAVE: Giroud is clear in the box, but his left-footed shot brings a comfortable save from the Napoli stopper.

31’ - CALLEJON SHOT: Callejon cuts in from the left, but curls a shot - possibly deflected by Carl Jenkinson - over the bar.

44’ - SZCZESNY MISTAKE: Attempting to clear a ball, the ‘keeper chips the ball at Higuain’s head, and is luckily to see it roll wide of goal.

58’ - ARMERO CHANCE: Having been put through on the left of the box, the full-back proves he is a full-back by shooting straight at the ‘keeper.

69’ - HIGUAIN GETS CLOSE: The Argentinean striker lashes the ball over the top after being set free by Callejon.

73’ - HIGUAIN GOAL: Finally, Napoli break the deadlock as Higuain receives Callejon’s pass just inside the box. He spins his marker and fires low into the goal.

76’ - ARTETA RED: Having already been booked, Arteta witlessly tackles Callejon from behind, and is sent off.

90’ - CALLEJON GOAL: A great pass from Insigne allows Callejon to lift the ball over Szczesny, but it’s too little, too late.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS

KEY STATS

Napoli have not drawn a game over their last 19 fixtures in European competition.

This is Napoli’s first clean sheet in their last 12 European games.

Arsenal have reached the knockout stage of the Champions League for the 11th season in a row.

Gonzalo Higuaín scored his first ever goal against an English team in the Champions League.

TALKING POINT: Are Arsenal able to progress any further? With the season’s efforts appearing to catch up with them, and their loss of spark, the team will need to find a new way to take on teams better than Napoli, and who are even more dangerous up front.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Jose Callejon (Napoli): In the first half he was a threat on the wings, but in the second he provided dangerous passes for Higuain, and scored a goal himself. Despite his best efforts Napoli could not progress.

PLAYER RATINGS

Napoli: Cabral 6, Maggio 6, Fernandez 6, Albiol 6, Armero 7, Dzemaili 6, Behrami 6, Callejón 7, Pandev 6, Mertens 6, Higuain 7. Subs: Isigne 7.

Arsenal: Szczesny 6, Jenkinson 5, Mertesacker 5, Koscielny 5, Gibbs 5, Flamini 6, Arteta 5, Rosicky 6, Cazorla 4, Ozil 5, Giroud 5. Subs: Monreal 5, Ramsey 6.

MATCH IN A TWEET