Europa league: Arsenal, Chelsea on the Cusp of Semis

Arsenal took a significant step towards the Europa League semifinals as Aaron Ramsey inspired a 2-0 win over Napoli in the quarterfinal first leg on Thursday.

Unai Emery’s side seized control of the tie with a dominant first-half performance at the Emirates Stadium.

Ramsey opened the scoring with a cool finish to cap a flowing move and the Gunners were further ahead before halftime when Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly deflected Lucas Torreira’s shot into his own net.

Arsenal couldn’t add to the lead after the break, but they had done enough to put themselves in pole position ahead of the second leg in Naples on April 18.

Elsewhere, Marcos Alonso’s 86th-minute header gave Chelsea the edge over hard-working Slavia Prague with a 1-0 win in the first leg of their quarterfinal in the Czech capital.

The Spanish left-back capitalised on a fine cross by Brazilian winger Willian, the tireless mastermind of Chelsea’s attack on a chilly night.

Valencia scored twice in stoppage time to secure a 3-1 victory away to local rivals Villarreal and take the upper hand after the first leg clash, while Benfica’s 19-year-old forward Joao Felix became the youngest player to score a Europa League hat-trick as he led them to a 4-2 win over 10-man Eintracht Frankfurt.