Arsenal into CL last 16 despite loss to Napoli
By Andy Scott ,AFP
December 13, 2013, 12:13 am TWN
PARIS -- Arsenal sneaked into the last 16 of the Champions League by the narrowest of margins while Napoli dramatically missed out as the group stage concluded on Wednesday evening.
Napoli beat Arsenal 2-0 in their final game in Group F with second-half goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Callejon as the Gunners finished with 10 men following the sending-off of Mikel Arteta.
Meanwhile, last season's beaten finalists Borussia Dortmund won too, downing 10-man Marseille 2-1 in France thanks to a late strike from Kevin Grosskreutz after Souleymane Diawara had cancelled out Robert Lewandowski's opener.
That ensured a three-way tie atop the section, with Dortmund, Arsenal and Napoli all finishing on 12 points, and the German side progressed as group winners thanks to their better head-to-head record.
Arsenal, meanwhile, qualified for the knockout stages for the 14th year running, but one more Napoli goal would have taken the Italians through at their expense.
Instead, Napoli become the first team to finish third with 12 points in a Champions League group and the first to be eliminated with such a tally since 1997.
Meanwhile, Marseille, who had Dimitri Payet sent off in the first half, became the first French side to finish a Champions League campaign without registering a single point.
“Napoli played well tonight, but in the end we got through,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
“Maybe Napoli played a little bit with the handbrake on when they led 1-0 because they thought they were through.
“We had a very difficult group. Three teams got 12 points so one of us had to go out.”