Magnificent Lacazette free-kick sends Arsenal into Europa semi-finals
A magnificent Alexandre Lacazette free-kick sent Arsenal into the 2018/2019 UEFA Europa League semi-finals with a comfortable 1-0 win away to a toothless Napoli on Thursday.
Arsenal’s win ended Serie A’s interest in European competition this season.
The Frenchman struck in the 36th minute to earn Arsenal a tie against Valencia.
Napoli were trailing 2-0 from the first leg, and they were threatening to take control of the game.
Carlo Ancelotti’s team lost their way after that.
Arsenal were then able to sit out the second half to reach the semi-finals for the second season in a row with a 3-0 aggregate win.
In a lively opening half hour, Napoli threatened to make a breakthrough as Jose Callejon’s effort was saved by Petr Cech’s legs.
Arkadiusz Milik also had a goal chalked off for offside.
The Pole should have put Napoli ahead minutes later when compatriot Piotr Zielinski’s cross found him unmarked in the penalty area, but he headed wide.
Arsenal also lost Aaron Ramsey to an apparent hamstring problem.
But just as it seemed things were going against them, they went ahead as Lacazette curled his free-kick around a poorly-organised wall from 25 metres.
Arsenal should have wrapped up the game four minutes into the second half.
But Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with only Alex Meret to beat, placed his shot too near the goalkeeper.
The second half petered out after that as Arsenal sat back and Napoli enjoyed most of the possession but did little with it.
Lorenzo Insigne shot weakly at Cech after getting clear of the Arsenal defence and was immediately substituted.
It was a decision which infuriated the forward who watched the rest of the match on the touchline with his arms folded.
Fabian Ruiz summed up their evening by firing their last chance wildly over the crossbar in stoppage time.