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Arsenal vs Napoli

2 October 2013-PA Sport

Group F: Arsenal 2 Napoli 0

Arsenal club-record signing Mesut Ozil scored his first goal since a 50 million euros ($71.96 million) deadline day move as the Gunners took control of UEFA Champions League Group F with a 2-0 win over Napoli at the Emirates Stadium.

Germany international Ozil, signed from Real Madrid, dispatched a classy finish on eight minutes after a fine cross by in-form Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey.

Ozil then turned provider to set up Olivier Giroud for a quick-fire second with just quarter-of-an-hour played to leave Rafael Benitez's men shell-shocked.

It was a 10th straight win in all competitions for Arsene Wenger's side, which has stormed to the top of the Premier League and now looks on course for safe passage through to the knockout stages of Europe's elite club competition.

Arsenal's victory was, however, somewhat overshadowed by reports of trouble caused by Napoli fans as they vandalised shops on Holloway Road en route to the Emirates Stadium.

It was a bright start by Arsenal, which started with England midfielder Jack Wilshere on the bench as Mikel Arteta came into the team along with fit-again playmaker Tomas Rosicky, while teenager Serge Gnarby, who scored in the win at Swansea City last weekend, was among the substitutes.

The Gunners swept into the lead on eight minutes with a goal of the highest quality.

Giroud, who turned 27 on Tuesday, laid the ball out to the right as Ramsey darted clear.

The Wales midfielder, enjoying a fine personal start to the new campaign, strode towards the by-line before looking up and clipping a perfectly-weighted pass back towards the penalty spot. Ozil arrived on queue to cushion an instinctive half-volley past former Liverpool stopper Pepe Reina to open his Arsenal account in some style.

Before Napoli - missing injured Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain, who was one of Wenger's northern summer targets - could mount a recovery, it trailed 2-0 on 15 minutes.

Giroud latched on to a poor throw-in to find Ozil on the right.

The Germany playmaker waltzed past his markers and into the penalty area before cutting a pass back to Giroud, who had continued his run on through to the six-yard box and the France forward promptly crashed home his sixth goal from close range.

Benitez had talked about the need to calm the euphoria after Napoli's home win over last season's beaten finalist Borussia Dortmund on matchday one.

But for the former Liverpool boss, who guided Chelsea to UEFA Europa League success while 'interim manager' last season, it was very much a case of damage limitation before his side had even got a chance to take the match to Arsenal, which continues to impress with every performance as Ozil revels in his role as the heartbeat of the side.

Napoli had tried to raise its game before the break and defender Miguel Britos sent a towering header over the Arsenal crossbar after a corner.

However, any thoughts of a recovery were short-lived as Arsenal was soon back on the offensive - with Ramsey and Ozil the main agitators of the Italian side's overworked rearguard.

Napoli captain Marek Hamsik, sporting a magnificent Mohican haircut, weaved into the Arsenal area but could not get a shot away before the ball rolled to the goalkeeper.

Arsenal came out of the blocks quickly for the second half, but this time found Napoli's defence regrouped - no doubt after a few choice words from Benitez - and no real space to exploit as both fullbacks tucked in.

With just under half-an-hour to go, Wenger replaced Rosicky with Wilshere, but the tempo of the match had already long dropped.

It should have been 3-0 on 75 minutes when Arteta's flick-on through a crowded box was met by Laurent Koscielny, but his snapshot was straight at Reina from point-blank range.

With Borussia Dortmund beating Marseille, the group is now very much Arsenal's for the taking, with a double-header next against the German side.

On this evidence, Wenger's men could just well be ready to make a serious tilt at going one better than Jurgen Klopp's side in 2014.

Dortmund picked up its first points of the campaign as it saw off the French team 3-0, with former Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Mitch Langerak keeping a clean sheet.

Dortmund lost to Napoli two weeks ago but Robert Lewandowski put it on course for victory in the 19th minute and Marco Reus made it two seven minutes after the break.

Lewandowski finished off the scoring in the 79th minute from the penalty spot after Reus had been fouled.

Barcelona avenged last season's defeat against Celtic as Cesc Fabregas scored the only goal of the game in Glasgow.

Celtic kept Barca at bay until the 76th minute, while Fabregas's header came moments after the host had twice gone agonisingly close.

Celtic's task was made even harder by the 59th-minute sending off of midfielder Scott Brown for a foul on Neymar.

Also in Group H, a very late Mario Balotelli penalty earned AC Milan a 1-1 draw against Ajax.

Ajax thought it had won it through Stefano Denswil's 90th-minute header but there was still time for Balotelli to be felled by Mike van der Hoorn and the Italy striker converted from the spot.

Jose Mourinho's Chelsea recovered from its slip-up against Basel with a crushing 4-0 victory over Steaua Bucharest in Romania.

The London side was dealt a blow early on when Fernando Torres suffered a knee injury and was replaced by Samuel Eto'o.

But it soon had something to cheer as Eto'o set up Ramires for the opener after 20 minutes and a minute before half-time Eto'o's shot was pushed against Daniel Georgievski by goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu for an own goal.

Ramires grabbed his second 10 minutes after the break to make sure of the three points, and Frank Lampard added some late gloss in the final minute.

Schalke leads the way in Group E thanks to a 1-0 victory over Basel, Julian Draxler netting a spectacular effort in the 54th minute.

Atletico Madrid has maximum points in Group G after Arda Turan's late goal gave it a 2-1 victory over Porto.

In-form Jackson Martinez gave the visitor a 16th-minute lead but Diego Godin levelled 13 minutes into the second half and Turan struck the winner in the 86th minute.

Zenit St Petersburg's hopes of reaching the knockout stages were hit by a goalless draw at home to Austria Vienna.

The Russian league leader hit a post early on through Hulk but was dealt a major blow just before half-time when Axel Witsel was sent off.

Australia midfielder James Holland played a full game for the Austrian side.

UEFA Champions League Matchday 2 results:

Group E
Basel 0-1 Schalke
Steaua Bucharest 0-4 Chelsea

Group F
Arsenal 2-0 Napoli
Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Marseille

Group G
Zenit St Petersburg 0-0 Austria Vienna
Porto 1-2 Atletico Madrid

Group H
Ajax 1-1 AC Milan
Celtic 0-1 Barcelona

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