An Aaron Ramsey effort and a Kalidou Koulibaly own goal gave Arsenal a 2-0 victory over Napoli in the first leg of their Europa League quarterfinal on Thursday -- and a rare and valuable clean sheet to take to Italy in a week's time.
Arsenal took the lead in the 14th minute through Ramsey, who finished off a sweeping move down the right by calmly slotting the ball past Napoli keeper Alex Meret.
They doubled the advantage 10 minutes later after a moment of individual brilliance from Lucas Torreira, who dashed through the Napoli midfield before spinning and switching the ball to his left foot, finding the net with a heavily-deflected shot off Koulibaly.
The Gunners pressed forward repeatedly as the half wore on, but were unable to capitalise despite repeated shots on goal from strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, while Napoli had Meret to thank for numerous saves.
"We deserved a third goal," Arsenal manager Unai Emery said in a post-match news conference. "Away it is going to be different. We need to be focused and clear; no more confident than we need."
"We suffered a lot -- they're a very good team and we had to dig in tonight. It's a great start to the quarterfinal," Ramsey told the club's website after the match.
Emery praised the Welshman's effort, who will join Napoli's rivals and Serie A leaders Juventus in the summer.
"His performances in this moment for us [show] that he wants to do something important with us, because I think he feels a lot for Arsenal as a club. When he's here with our supporters, he gives us all he can, not individually, but in the collective," Emery said.
Carlo Ancelotti's men poured forward at the start of the second half in search of an away goal, with striker Lorenzo Insigne putting the ball in the back of the net only to be ruled offside, and Koulibaly denied moments later when keeper Petr Cech tipped his header over the bar.
The game quickly opened up and Ramsey and Nacho Monreal created chances at the other end but were unable to outwit Meret again.
Napoli went closest to scoring when Insigne raced down the right and crossed to Piotr Zielinski, but the Pole's right-footed effort shot up over the bar.
"The result is difficult to change but we have 90 minutes left," Ancelotti said.
The Italian side have now failed to beat English opponents away from the San Paolo stadium in nine attempts in European competition, and will need to be on scoring form at home if they are to progress in the competition.