Napoli v Arsenal - Champions League Wednesday as it happened - Live coverage - The Independent

Napoli v Arsenal - Champions League Wednesday as it happened

by Jack de Menezes
Welcome to The Independent's live commentary of tonight's Champions League Group F encounter between Napoli and Arsenal at the Stadio San Paolo.

We want to hear from you. To do this, click the 'Make a comment' button below and we'll post the best ones. You can also take part in our poll on who you think stands the best chance of winning the Champions League from the sides already qualified. CLICK HERE TO VOTE.

Follow all the latest news and updates below...
  • Full-time: Napoli 2 (Higuain 73', Callejon 90+3) Arsenal 0
    • Arsenal secure a place in the last 16 but finish second in Group F, meaning they will face one of Real Madrid, PSG, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid or Bayern Munich.
    • Higuain appeared to put Napoli through alongside Arsenal, but Callejon's late goal sees the Italian's fall one goal short of qualification.
    • Borussia Dortmund beat Marseille 2-1 with a late goal from Kevin Grosskruetz, meaning they go through as group winners on goals scored compared to Arsenal.
    • Chelsea 1 (Ba 11') Steaua Bucharest 0; Barcelona 6 (Pique 7', Pedro 40', Neymar 45', 48, 58', Tello 72') Celtic 0; Dortmund 2 (Lewandowski 4' Grosskreutz 86) Marseille 1 (Diawara 14')
    12/11/2013 6:02:41 PM
  • Welcome to The Independent's live commentary of tonight's Champions League Group F encounter between Napoli and Arsenal at the San Paolo Stadium.
    12/11/2013 5:48:58 PM
  • 12/11/2013 5:52:49 PM
  • 12/11/2013 5:54:46 PM
  • Remember Arsenal's pursuit of Gonzalo Higuian? Arsene Wenger does:
    Gonzalo Higuain, an Arsenal target this summer, did not play in the 2-0 defeat for the Italian side at the Emirates in October but he will be in the side tonight. Asked whether he might have signed Higuain as well as Mesut Ozil, Wenger said he found that one a difficult one to answer. “Am I happy with the player I got in Ozil? Very much,” he said.
    The Argentinian could line-up for Napoli tonight. Read more of what Arsene Wenger had to say HERE.
    12/11/2013 6:06:12 PM
  • So how does Group F shape up?
    Arsenal have won 4 out of their 5 European matches with both Napoli and Borussia Dortmund having won 3. Napoli are still firmly in the mix of securing a Champions League knock out spot. The Partenopei could draw and go through, but they would need Dortmund to lose at a Marseille side who are still seeking their first point in the competition.
    To read the match preview, CLICK HERE.
    12/11/2013 6:08:44 PM
  • Is Wenger a happier man these days? With Arsenal top of the table in Europe and the Premier League, it's hard to say no.

    12/11/2013 6:10:21 PM

  • 12/11/2013 6:15:33 PM
  • One early game today where Galatasaray took on Juventus, following the shock snow storm that hit Istanbul last night. The match was called off after 32 minutes with the pitch deemed unplayable. It wasn't much better today, and with snow still in the air, play was resumed at 1pm from the 32nd minute. It remained goalless until the 85th minute, when Wesley Sneijder scored to send the Turkish side through to the last 16 and Juventus crashing into the Europa League. You can read the match report HERE.
    12/11/2013 6:21:10 PM
  • Our chief football correspondent Sam Wallace is out in Naples for tonight's match. But it's not just the Stadio San Paolo that he's been gracing on his travels:

    12/11/2013 6:23:03 PM
  • We'll also be keeping you up to date with the latest goings on at Stamford Bridge. With Arsenal expected to sign a new striker in January, and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho admitting his options in attack haven't produced enough goals this season, who would you like to see move to either club in the near future? 

    Let us know by clicking the 'Make a Comment' button above.
    12/11/2013 6:33:50 PM
  • There has been some concern over the safety of away fans in Italy:
    Arsenal fans will be transported on designated coaches from the port area of Naples to the San Paulo stadium for Wednesday night’s Champions League game against Napoli in order to protect them from potential attacks from local fans.
    With reports of flares being handed out outside the stadium tonight, Napoli could rish the wrath of Uefa should they fall foul of their disciplinary proceedings once again. CLICK HERE to read more.
    12/11/2013 6:38:59 PM
  • On top of that, here's a worrying sight of what has already been allegedly confiscated from Napoli fans:

    12/11/2013 6:42:25 PM
  • Team line-ups:
    Napoli: Cabral; Maggio, Fernandez, Armero, Albiol, Callejon, Dzemaili, Behrami, Mertens, Pandev, Higuain.
    Subs: Colombo, Uvini, Britos, Cannavaro, Inler, Insigne, Zapata.
    Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta, Flamini, Rosicky, Ozil, Cazorla, Giroud.
    Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Monreal, Wilshere, Rosicky, Ramsey, Bendtner.
    12/11/2013 6:49:10 PM
  • The major team news for Napoli is that Pepe Reina is not fit to feature tonight, so Raphael Cabral comes into the starting line-up. Hometown hero Lorenzo Insigne is only afforded a place on the bench, despite posing problems when he came on at the Emirates.

    Arsene Wenger has elected to rotate his side, with the in-form Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere dropped to the bench with on eye on Saturday's Premier League trip to Manchester City. Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky come into the starting XI, in what is a more defensively sound line-up with a strong bench should they find themselves in trouble.
    12/11/2013 6:52:07 PM
  • Who's confident of an Arsenal win tonight?

    12/11/2013 7:05:11 PM
  • So just to confirm how Group F could play out tonight:
    • Arsenal will qualify and top the group if they earn a draw or better at Napoli, and will qualify second if they avoid a three-goal defeat or worse and Dortmund win.
    • Borussia Dortmund will qualify with a win in Marseille, and also if they equal or better Napoli’s result. They can top the group if they win and Arsenal lose as long as the Gunners aren’t defeated by a one-goal margin of 4-3 or higher.
    • Napoli will qualify if they better Dortmund’s result, or beat Arsenal by three or more goals, which will also see them top the group.
    • Marseille are out of Europe altogether.
    12/11/2013 7:18:08 PM
  • Around 25 minutes to go until the action gets underway. I imagine nerves are building for a number of Arsenal fans. Are you confident of topping the group, or would you take going through as runner-up, given the chance? Let us know by using the comment button above.
    12/11/2013 7:21:04 PM
  • Given the pre-match warnings, and the rather worrying photograph of the confiscated knifes earlier, I fear this may not be the last we hear of trouble tonight.
    Beware when you get dropped by the port after the game. A half decent sized mob were waiting for us. Stick together and you may be ok.Albertcornercrewat 7:24 PM

    12/11/2013 7:26:31 PM
  • Should Arsenal reach the last 16 tonight, it will be the 14th consecutive time that they have done so - a feat that no other English side can boast. Will the Gunners run continue, or do all good things have to come to an end at some point?
    12/11/2013 7:28:52 PM
  • Further information from the James Olley, who is at tonight's match:

    12/11/2013 7:30:50 PM
  • Less than 15 minutes to go, and the stands are quickly filling up. Some fans have been here for over three hours - you can't doubt the support for the home side - but Napoli have leaked goals at home in recent games. The same tonight, and the crowd could quickly turn on their own players. Either way, it's going to be hostile.
    12/11/2013 7:33:33 PM
  • Spotted: A familiar face in the Stadio San Paolo, former Chelsea captain Marcel Dessailly. He's at the wrong game, isn't he?

    12/11/2013 7:37:24 PM
  • Seems the 'official' coaches won't make kick-off. Risk your safety by making your own travel, or risk missing kick-off? Either way it's not ideal at all.

    12/11/2013 7:40:09 PM
  • After all the controversy pre-match, we're finally heading towards kick-off. The players are in the tunnel making their last preparations...thankfully.
    12/11/2013 7:41:12 PM
  • Here come the players, and the Napoli fans burst into song. But the stands are a long way from full, and the away section contains roughly 150 Arsenal fans - they were allocated 700 tickets with around 300 being taken. There's a banner in memory of Nelson Mandela in front of the teams, which reads 'Madiba. The world will never forget'. A nice touch given the hostility of the occasion.
    12/11/2013 7:45:04 PM
  • The two teams have now lined up together behind the Mandela tribute, and the crowd rise as one to applaud. A warming reminder that there is more to life than sport. Only just, though.
    12/11/2013 7:46:55 PM
  • 1 mins: The match is underway!
    12/11/2013 7:47:59 PM
  • 1 mins: An early run from Higuain, but he's ruled offside as he takes the ball behind the Arsenal defence. He looked onside though, and Giroud is quickly pulled up for a similar offence - though he is clearly offside.
    12/11/2013 7:49:16 PM
  • 3 mins: Robert Lewandowski has put Borussia Dortmund ahead in Marseille after just four minutes. That makes Napoli's task much clearer - they must win by three goals as it stands.
    12/11/2013 7:50:41 PM
  • 5 mins: Both teams are looking to figure each other out, although Napoli are looking the more dangerous early on. Higuain is caught offside again, although this time inside the Arsenal area and that's a little closer to home. But it's a correct decision from referee Viktor Kassai of Hungary.
    12/11/2013 7:53:44 PM
  • Napoli fans display a banner for former star Diego Maradona.

    12/11/2013 7:54:04 PM
  • 8 mins: Giroud wins a free-kick in the middle of the park, but Arsenal choose to pass it back rather than attack. Gerard Pique has scored for Barcelona - his eighth in Europe - and that's trouble for Celtic. Mertens delivers a good ball Pandev over the defence, but his shot is straight at Szczesny and that's easy for the Pole. Chelsea have taken the lead against Steaua thanks to a Demba Ba strike, although that could be an own goal.
    12/11/2013 7:57:23 PM
  • 11 mins: Arsenal are looking to build up play patiently, but as soon as the Italian side get the ball they are looking to attack. Higuain picks up the ball on the edge of the box, but rather than shoot he attempts to pass to Pandev and the ball is cut out.
    12/11/2013 7:59:18 PM
  • 12 mins: Napoli are growing into the game more and more, and they have a handball shout correctly turned down. Marseille have equalised against Borussia Dortmund, with Diawara drawing the French side level. 
    12/11/2013 8:01:04 PM
  • 15 mins: Rosicky gives away a foul as he slides in from the side on Higuain just as he's about to pull the trigger. Chance for Napoli here... meanwhile the goal flurry continues as Raul Garcia has put Atletico Madrid ahead in their match against Porto.
    12/11/2013 8:03:03 PM
  • 16 mins: Instead of shooting, Napoli play a set-piece move that tries to free Callejon in the box, but it completely falls apart when he passes to no one, and the ball goes out for a throw-in to Arsenal.
    12/11/2013 8:04:03 PM
  • 17 mins: Behrami and Rosicky lunge for the same ball, and the Arsenal midfielder is left on the floor in pain, Nothing malicious from Behrami, and the Czech captain is soon back on his feet.
    12/11/2013 8:05:12 PM
  • Olivier Giroud shoots despite being flagged for offside

    12/11/2013 8:07:29 PM
  • 19 mins: Napoli enjoying a period of possession deep in the right corner, but it eventually comes to nothing. We've finally gone five minutes without a goal in any of our matches tonight, such was the goal-spree at the start of the evening. Napoli win a corner after Mertesacker is forced into two good blocks, and Giroud first, then Koscielny clear the danger.
    12/11/2013 8:08:18 PM
  • 22 mins: Mertesacker gets caught in possession, and he then sells Flamini short which lets the opposition in. The German recovers though - just - to win a goal kick, and Callejon is warned for catching Cazorla on the previous break.
    12/11/2013 8:10:00 PM
  • 23 mins: Chance for Arsenal... saved! Giroud is played in by Flamini on the left of the box, and he lines up his shot before firing towards Cabral - making his Champions League debut tonight. Cabral manages to parry it away, and Ozil can't connect on the rebound. Big chance for the Gunners gone begging there.
    12/11/2013 8:12:33 PM
  • 26 mins: Flamini and Ozil are beginning to grow into the match. With Arteta playing the holding role, Flamini is being allowed the freedom to roam the park, and his link up play with Ozil in the last few minutes has been promising.
    12/11/2013 8:14:52 PM
  • 28 mins: Chance for Napoli as Pandev is fed behind Koscielny, but the Frenchman makes up for it and gets back in time to clear the danger, just yards away from his own goal.
    12/11/2013 8:16:17 PM
  • Wenger and Benitez look on anxiously

    12/11/2013 8:18:06 PM
  • 30 mins: Callejon thinks he's sprung the offside trap, but again the flag correctly goes up. Arsenal's defence is certainly living dangerously, and the same player fires in a long range shot that is not far over the crossbar.
    12/11/2013 8:18:33 PM
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