It’s advantage Arsenal as Ramsey inspires win over Napoli
Ramsey's clinical finish and a deflected effort from Torreira give Gunners a 2-0 lead to take to Italy on Thursday in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final
11 April, 2019 — By Paul Cowling
Europa League Quarter-Final First Leg
ARSENAL 2 (Ramsey 14, Koulibaly 25 OG)
TWO first half goals and none conceded over the opening 90 minutes against Napoli gave the Gunners an advantage to take to the Neapolitan city next Thursday.
But Arsenal coach Unai Emery put Arsenal’s chances of holding onto their lead as only “50 per cent” following the 2-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium tonight (Thursday).
“We know the first leg was important, and it is a good result and we have some advantage, but it is going to be very difficult there (in Naples),” said the Arsenal boss.
Despite the Spaniards’ caution, the north Londoners were good value for the win, and totally bossed the first half and worked hard to keep a clean sheet in the second period.
Emery made six changes from the side that lost at Everton in the Premier League on Sunday, with Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang partnering Alexandre Lacazette up front, and the impressive Mesut Ozil just behind the pairing.
Ozil and Lacazette had a hand in Arsenal’s opening goal on 14 minutes. A flowing team move started on the half way line, and ended with Lacazette pulling the ball back for Aaron Ramsey to slot home from close range.
Napoli were all over the place at times, and they went further behind in the 25th minute when Lucas Torreira dispossessed Fabian Ruiz. The Uruguayan preceded to slalom and scythe his way to goal, before his shot cannoned off Kalidou Koulibaly and into the visitors net.
The Italians, who had never won in England in eight attempts, should have got a goal back as the match approached half time, but Lorenzo Insigne blazed the ball over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
It was an effort that Ramsey did well to match in the second half when he was wasteful when he found himself in a similar position to score a crucial third for Arsenal, but, like Insigne, his shot ended up in the crowd rather than the net.
Ramsey’s worth to Arsenal in this season’s Europa League is spelled out by his six goals and two assists so far – the most of any other player in the competition. Stats that make his pending departure to Juventus even harder to stomach for the Arsenal supporters.
Napoli were more of a threat in the second half, and had another chance to reduce the arrears when midfielder Piotr Zielinski stabbed his effort over the bar when it looked easier to score.
“He is awesome,” said Emery of the Welsh international. “Ramsey still wants to do well with Arsenal. His performances for us means he wants to do something important with the club.”
ARSENAL: Cech, Sokratis, Koscielny, Montreal, Maitland-Niles, Torreira (Elneny, 77), Ramsey, Kolasinac; Ozil (Mkhitaryan, 67), Lacazette (Iwobi, 67) Aubameyang
Substitutes not used: Leno, Mustafi, Suarez, Guendouzi
NAPOLI: Meret, Hysaj, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Mario-Rui, Callejon, Allan, Fabian-Ruiz (Ounas, 82), Zielinski, Insigne (Younes, 82), Mertens (Milik, 66)
Substitutes not used: Ospina, Malcuit, Chiriches, Ghoulam