Arsenal 2-0 Napoli
An Aaron Ramsey strike and Kalidou Koulibaly’s own goal secured victory for Arsenal against Napoli in their Europa League quarter-final first leg.
It was a fine response by Unai Emery’s side after their disappointing defeat to Everton in the Premier League last weekend.
It was also an impressive individual performance by Ramsey, who gave Gunners fans a bittersweet reminder of what they will miss when he heads to Juventus next season.
Emery made five changes to the side that lost at Goodison Park on Sunday, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fit again after illness to start alongside Alexandre Lacazette up front.
The Gunners began on the front foot, with Ramsey and Ainsley Maitland-Niles both having shots blocked early on.
It didn’t take them long to open the scoring though.
Just 14 minutes were on the clock when a lovely flowing move involving Mesut Ozil, Lacazette and Maitland-Niles was finished off by Ramsey from close range.
Arsenal were dominant at this stage and it was no surprise when they doubled their advantage shortly before the half hour.
Lucas Torreira showed neat skill to jink away from Fabian Ruiz before firing in a shot that went in via a wicked deflection off Koulibaly.
It should have been three when Aubameyang cut in from the left and teed up Lacazette, but the Frenchman completely missed his kick when well placed just inside the area.
Napoli were much brighter after the break, no doubt after a half-time dressing down by manager Carlo Ancelotti.
However, it was the Gunners who had the first opportunity of the half, with Ramsey’s stinging effort from distance well pushed away by Alex Meret.
Ramsey was central to all of the Gunners’ attacking play, with his neat back-heel setting up Sead Kolasinac, whose low effort was once again saved by the increasingly busy Meret.
The Welshman then missed a glorious chance from eight yards after being set up by Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Napoli pushed forward as the game entered its final stages in an attempt to grab a precious away goal.
Adam Ounas went closest when he ran onto Koulibaly’s pass but his low shot was well blocked by Petr Cech.
Aubameyang could have put a gloss on the victory late on but he could only fire into the side netting.
But, despite that miss, Arsenal will be well pleased with their evening’s work and head to Italy for next week’s second leg in a commanding position.