NAPLES, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- Napoli crashed out of the UEFA Champions League despite a 2-0 win over 10-man Arsenal at home on Wednesday.
Napoli entered the clash knowing that they needed to win by three goals to definitely go through.
It took until the 73rd minute for the Italians to get on the scoresheet, Gonzalo Higuain hitting a shot on the turn from around 18 yards to send the home fans into raptures, before Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta saw red for a second bookable offence.
But news from Marseille was met with cries of despair from the stands, with Kevin Grosskreutz firing Borussia Dortmund to a last-gasp 2-1 victory and sending the Germans through as winners of Group F.
Jose Callejon added a second for Napoli at the death, but it was too little too late for the Serie A club.
Napoli head coach Rafa Benitez said his side are on the right track for something great though they failed to qualify for the knock-out stage of the Champions League.
"We should've scored a goal earlier, but we knew it was 1-1 in Marseille and we were afraid to push too hard in case Arsenal hit us on the break. The team gave its all and deserved both to win and to qualify, but that's football," he said.
"I think the key is to look at this as a stage during our growth process and proof we are on the right track. The fans and everyone should be proud of what Napoli have achieved," he said.
The former Liverpool manager is confident of Napoli's future.
"I think the process means bringing in young players who can be here for many years and be part of the long-term project. Today we proved that with two or three additions we can compete in Serie A and at another level in the Champions League," he said.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted his side were "nervous in the end" against Napoli.
"We are happy to be through because it was very difficult," said Wenger. "We took it very seriously but in the second half we dropped physically a lot, we had a game on Sunday."
"Napoli played very well tonight but we were a little bit on edge for some minutes, it was nervous in the end, but we got through," he said.
"The most difficult is when you are in between, do we attack or defend? As long as we didn't score, they had hope," he said.
"Maybe what helped was that Dortmund were drawing 1-1 and maybe they put the handbrake on, that's why we didn't get too much pressure in the end," he added.