Europa League: It is still 50-50 for Arsenal in quarter-final first leg
Arsenal boss Unai Emery is wary of Napoli despite 2-0 victory over Italians in quarter-final first leg; says they will be a formidable unit in return leg at home
Unai Emery warned Arsenal to expect a strong response from Napoli after his side seized the initiative with a 2-0 win in their Europa League quarter-final first leg on Thursday.
Emery's men took control of the tie with a dominant first-half performance at the Emirates Stadium. Aaron Ramsey opened the scoring with a cool finish to cap a flowing move and the Gunners were further ahead before half-time when Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly deflected Lucas Torreira's shot into his own net.
Arsenal couldn't add to the lead after the break, but they had done enough to put themselves in pole position ahead of the second leg in Naples on April 18. However, Emery is well aware that Arsenal have a wretched away record this season, while Napoli should be a more formidable force in front of their vociferous fans at the San Paolo Stadium.
"The first leg was very important to take a good result. We deserved to win, but we know it is going to be very difficult there," Emery said. "Their performances at home are usually very strong. We will plan to win the match, but we need to have a lot of respect for them. It is still 50-50. Our challenge is to be competitive away. Sometimes away we lost the spirit we have at home."
Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti remains confident of a second-leg comeback. "The first half we were really bad. We weren't brave enough to control the game as we wanted," he said. "The result is difficult to change but we have 90 minutes left. In the second half we showed we create chances. "It will be a different environment with our home crowd behind us. I'm confident." It was a much-needed success for Emery, who this week called on his players to embrace the pressure of regaining their Champions League status after two successive seasons out of Europe's elite club competition.
With Arsenal sitting fifth in the Premier League after Sunday's damaging defeat at Everton, the Gunners can no longer rely on their domestic fortunes to qualify for the Champions League. Winning the Europa League is Arsenal's other route back into the Champions League.
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