Champions League joy for Arsenal

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(CNN) — Arsene Wenger could scarcely have asked for a more enjoyable anniversary gift from his players after Arsenal produced a scintillating showing to see off Napoli in the Champions League.

Celebrating his 17th year in charge, Wenger watched on as the Gunners turned in one of its finest European performances for some time to defeat the Serie A side 2-0.

Mesut Ozil, the German playmaker who arrived on deadline day from Real Madrid, was the man who ran the show.

Ozil’s sublime opener and an Olivier Giroud strike secured a second straight Champions League win for Arsenal, which now sits three points clear at the top of Group F.

“Considering we were playing against a top side, we played very efficiently winning the ball back and it was a very impressive first 45 minutes,” captain Mikael Arteta told Sky Sports.

“We have the talent up front to score the goals. But there is also a hunger. Now we know that we need to win the ball back quickly, because when we win it back in the final third we are very dangerous.

“We still have players to come back from injury and they will add their own qualities.”

After its opening day defeat by Aston Villa which led to huge criticism of Wenger, Arsenal has been in imperious form.

And the Frenchman was delighted with his side’s latest showing as it continued its winning streak.

“I felt that we played at a good pace, technically very direct and finished with great goals,” he told Sky Sports.

“The first half was outstanding. The second half we played more with maturity, less with drive going forward, a bit more cautious, but overall and outstanding game.

“The first half was amazing, absolutely fantastic. Everything was in there. All that you dream to see when you come to watch football.

“We were solid. Flamini and Arteta contributed to that, and overall it was positive because I wanted Flamini to be very good on the counter attack, especially with Ramsey, and that worked very well.”

Napoli manager Rafael Benitez had never managed to win at Arsenal during his time at Liverpool or Chelsea and that statistic rarely looked like changing.

One sided

Arsenal, which sits top of the Premier League, ran riot during a one sided first half with Ozil dictating proceedings in the middle of the field.

Napoli had arrived with plenty of optimism after winning five of its opening six Serie A games and having seen off Borussia Dortmund in its last European fixture.

But it had little to offer in way of a response against the tidal wave of pressure exerted by a buoyant Arsenal.

In the group’s other game, Dortmund eased to a 3-0 win over Marseille courtesy of Robert Lewandowski’s double and a Marco Reus strike.

Arsenal hosts Dortmund in its next game on October 22nd — a tie which Wenger is relishing following his side’s perfect start to the group stage.

“You cannot start better, and the next two will be deciders,” he added.

“That’s when we want the game to come back after the international break and have a great game against Dortmund.”

Chelsea

In Group E, Schalke moved top with a 1-0 win at Basel thanks to a Julian Draxler strike, while Chelsea cruised to a 4-0 victory at Steaua Bucharest.

Two goals from Ramires, an own-goal and a late Frank Lampard effort clinched Chelsea its first win in this year’s competition.

“This is what Chelsea needed,” Juan Mata told Sky Sports. “The first game against Basel was a painful defeat.

” We showed we wanted to win. We played really well. It was enough to win. It will now give us confidence.”

Atletico Madrid has taken charge of Group G following its 2-1 win over Porto in Portugal.

Diego Godin and Arda Turan were both on target as Atletico came from behind to claim the points following Jackson Martinez’s opener.

In the group’s other game, Zenit was held to a goalless draw by Austria Vienna — a result which leaves both teams with one point from their opening two fixtures.

Barcelona

Barcelona equaled Manchester United’s record of 39 away wins in the Champions League after overcoming Celtic 1-0.

The Scottish champion had chances of its own but was forced to play the final 31 minutes with 10 men following the dismissal of captain Scott Brown.

Brown was adjudged to have kicked out at Barca star Neymar and was given his marching orders.

Cesc Fabregas ensured Barcelona made the most of its numerical supremacy with 15 minutes of normal time remaining.

“I’m not convinced it’s a red card. If there’s any contact it’s very minimal,” Celtic boss Neil Lennon told ITV.

“It changed the game. It’s hard enough playing against Barcelona with 11 men, never mind 10 men.

“Neymar has a reputation in the game. Sometimes he exaggerates things a little bit.”

In the group’s other game, Mario Balotelli scored a 94th minute penalty to rescue a point for AC Milan at Ajax.

The Dutch side appeared to have won the contest when Stefano Denswil netted in the 90th minute but Balotelli struck at the death to silence the home crowd.

The-CNN-Wire
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