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2-min read

Arsenal advance despite 2-0 loss at Napoli in Champions League

Ten-man Arsenal advanced to the Champions League knockout phase for the 14th consecutive year despite a 2-0 loss at Napoli.

Associated Press

Updated:December 12, 2013, 3:21 AM IST
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Arsenal advance despite 2-0 loss at Napoli in Champions League
Ten-man Arsenal advanced to the Champions League knockout phase for the 14th consecutive year despite a 2-0 loss at Napoli.
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Italy: Ten-man Arsenal advanced to the Champions League knockout phase for the 14th consecutive year despite a 2-0 loss on Wednesday at Napoli, who were eliminated from the competition.

Gonzalo Higuain scored in the 73rd minute but the San Paolo stadium was soon silenced when word arrived that Borussia Dortmund had scored a late goal in a 2-1 win at Marseille to win Group F. Jose Callejon added another goal for Napoli in added time but it made no difference.

Arsenal were reduced to 10 men when Mikel Arteta picked up his second yellow card in the 76th.

Dortmund, last season's runner-up, won the group with 12 points. Arsenal and Napoli also finished with 12 but Napoli were eliminated on goal difference, becoming the first club to exit with 12 points under the current format. Marseille finished last in the group with zero points.

Napoli will drop into the Europa League, while Arsenal join fellow English clubs Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea in the last 16.

Despite their group-stage success, Arsenal have never won the Champions League, losing the 2006 final to Barcelona being their best result.

Arsenal needed only a draw to be sure of advancing as group winners, while Napoli needed to win by a three-goal margin.

Napoli fans whistled when Arsenal had the ball, while the group of about 1,000 Arsenal supporters inside the visitors section at the San Paolo stadium were mostly quiet.

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger rested standout midfielder Aaron Ramsey at the start, using Tomas Rosicky instead on the right wing, while Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina missed the match with a right thigh injury, opening the way for 23-year-old Rafael Cabral to make his European debut.

Napoli took the initiative from the start with Goran Pandev and Higuain threatening in attack but the Italian side had trouble getting a good look at the net.

Arsenal were content to play more patiently and seized upon their first opportunity when Mesut Ozil set up Olivier Giroud for a blazing shot on goal, which Cabral did well to knock away.

Napoli continued to pour forward but Arsenal defended with 10 men and the closest the hosts' came to scoring in the first-half was when a header from Higuain went wide in the 44th after a failed clearance by Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. There was a lull in action at the start of the second-half, until Napoli left back Pablo Armero broke free and carried the ball into the area, only to shoot directly at Szczesny.

Callejon had another good look for Napoli in the 62nd but shot wide. Ramsey came on for Santi Cazorla in the 67th but then Napoli took control, first with Higuain then with Callejon, who scored with a lob shot.

Despite the loss, Napoli fans gave their club a standing ovation as they walked off. With Juventus also having been eliminated Wednesday, AC Milan were the only Italian club to advance.

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