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Thursday 12 December 2013

Champions League: Arsenal and Chelsea reach last 16

Four Barclays Premier League clubs through to knockout stage of Champions League for sixth time

  • Chelsea's Demba Ba scored Chelsea's winner against Schalke

  • Oscar's header set up Ba's early goal at Stamford Bridge

  • Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud tries in vain to find a way past Napoli's defence

  • Carl Jenkinson, the Arsenal full-back, takes on Napoli's Jose Callejon

Arsenal and Chelsea made it through to the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday night as all four clubs from the Barclays Premier League reached the round of 16 for the sixth time.

Napoli 2-0 Arsenal

Arsenal needed to avoid defeat by three goals to negotiate safe passage out of the group stage and they achieved their aim by the slenderest of margins. The Gunners set out to contain their Serie A hosts but fell behind when Gonzalo Higuain broke the deadlock with a 73rd-minute shot on the turn. Matters were rendered more difficult for Arsene Wenger's charges when Mikel Arteta was dismissed three minutes later for a second bookable offence and the visiting fans' hearts were in mouths when Jose Callejon lobbed Wojciech Scszesny in added time.

"We prepared well and were concentrated, but we were a bit in between 'do we attack. or do we defend?'"
Arsene Wenger

With Napoli, Borussia Dortmund - who won their final match in Marseille 2-1 - and Arsenal all finishing the group stage on 12 points, the Gunners qualified for the next stage as runners-up, with Dortmund winning the section as a result of having scored the most goals.

Finishing second in Group F means Arsenal will be drawn against one of the following group winners when the draw is made on Monday morning: Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid.

"We prepared well and were concentrated, but we were a bit in between 'do we attack. or do we defend?', so it is difficult to cope with that problem," said Wenger. "In the second half, I felt that our legs went a little bit and Napoli were sharper physically than us. They always looked dangerous and won the game 2-0. They deserved it and were always dangerous.

"Saturday was on our mind, [but] we knew to come to Naples would be difficult. We have done our job now we will give absolutely everything on Saturday morning [against Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League."

Chelsea 1-0 Steaua Bucharest

Chelsea made lighter work of their final group match with a narrow home victory over Steaua Bucharest. The Blues had already secured their qualification to the next stage but required victory to go through as group winners for the eighth time in the last 11 campaigns, which they achieved courtesy of Demba Ba's close-range finish. The striker pounced in the 10th minute after Oscar had headed on Willian's near-post corner to give the Blues their fourth Group E victory.

"Drogba deserves a reception here, even better, he deserves it even more than me"
Jose Mourinho

The west Londoners' next opponents will be either AC Milan, Bayer Leverkusen, Galatasaray, Olympiacos or Zenit St Petersburg, and when asked which side he would prefer to play next, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho picked Galatasaray, in order for the former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba to receive a rousing reception from Blues supporters.

"He deserves a reception here, even better, he deserves it even more than me," said Mourinho, who was welcomed back to Chelsea with open arms this season. "He deserves to get what I got against Hull City [in his first game back in charge this season]. He deserves double to three times that. I know what I felt and I think he deserves that.

"So yes - Galatasaray is difficult, very difficult but I would like Didier to be back here and to feel what I felt."

Swansea and Spurs tests

On Thursday evening Swansea City are hoping to join Tottenham Hotspur in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League when they travel to St Gallen. Michael Laudrup's charges, whose flight to Switzerland yesterday was delayed by fog, need to avoid defeat against the Swiss Super League side to progress. Spurs, meanwhile, are expected to field an experimental line-up against Anji Makachkala at White Hart Lane with their qualification to the knockout rounds already guaranteed.

UEFA Youth League

Chelsea made short work of their home match against Steaua Bucharest as they rattled five unanswered goals past the Romanian outfit. John Swift gave Chelsea an early lead before Islam Feruz doubled their advantage with a superb strike from distance. Feruz added a second and Alex Kiwomya also got on the scoresheet to end the contest before half-time.

Ambrose Gnahore made it five on the hour-mark to round off a sixth straight victory for Dermot Drummy’s side: "I thought Mukhtar Ali was outstanding today," Drummy told UEFA.com. "We've kind of given some other boys a little view and a little taste of the next level. It is really pleasing when you get a player like that who shows that intelligence for a 16-year-old."

Like the senior side Arsenal suffered a defeat in Naples but the Gunners' Under-19s reached the knockout stage as group winners despite the 2-1 reverse in Italy. Steve Gatting's side found themselves a goal behind when Gerardo Ribino scored the 34th-minute opener but Chuba Akpom converted Jon Toral's centre to level the match on 62 minutes, only for Gennaro Tutino to produce the winner with just under 20 minutes of play remaining that secured the Partenopei's qualification as runners-up.

UEFA Champions League results

Wednesday 11 December
Group C
Chelsea
(Ba) 1-0 Steaua Bucharest
Schalke 2-0 Basel

Chelsea qualify as group winners
Schalke through as runners-up

Group F
Marseille 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Napoli 2-0 Arsenal

Borussia Dortmund qualify as group winners
Arsenal through as runners-up

UEFA Youth League results

Group E
Chelsea
(Swift, Feruz 2, Kiwomya, Gnahore) 5-0 Steaua Bucharest
Schalke 5-1 Basel

Chelsea qualify as group winners
Schalke through as runners-up

Group F
Napoli 2-1 Arsenal (Akpom)
Marseille 4-1 Borussia Dortmund

Arsenal qualify as group winners
Napoli through as runners-up

UEFA Europa League fixtures

Tottenham Hotspur v Anji Makachkala, 6pm
St Gallen v Swansea City, 8.05pm

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Key Points

  • Arsenal and Chelsea reach round of 16 of UEFA Champions League
  • Arsenal through as group runners-up following defeat at Napoli, Chelsea win section following 1-0 win over Schalke
  • In UEFA Youth League, Arsenal and Chelsea win respective groups to join Man City in knockout stage