It took a second half Lorenzo Insigne wonderstrike to kick-start Napoli into action as the Partenopei achieved a 3-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk. In a real game of two halves, how did the Napoli players fare in the Football Italia ratings?
Words: Greg Murray
Pepe Reina – 6
Napoli’s goalkeeper was rarely stretched during the match, but proved a safe pair of hands whenever he was called upon. Reina’s calm passing helped the team build from the back.
Christian Maggio - 6
Brought in to facilitate Elseid Hysaj’s move to the left wing, Maggio struggled to offer the same presence going forward as the Albanian. In spite of this, the veteran kept Napoli’s right flank safe against the dangerous Bernard, which at a fundamental level, is the role of a right-back.
Raul Albiol - 7
Both centre-backs had a real role to play in earning their side a clean sheet, however, it was Albiol who helped lock in Napoli’s victory, rising highest on the box to knock the ball on for Mertens’ goal.
Vlad Chiriches - 6
With Kalidou Koulibaly out injured, many feared the worst when Chiriches, who has only four appearances to his name this season, stepped up to replace him. Against a quick and skilful Shakhtar front line, the Romanian kept his cool, and helped protect the Napoli defence during a nervy first half.
Elseid Hysaj - 6
The Albanian right-back looked less confident away from his preferred flank, but proved a reliable replacement for the injured Ghoulam.
Piotr Zielinski – 7
Zielinski remains somewhat of an enigma. His tendency to disappear in games was evident throughout the first half, and he ballooned a shot on a near-open goal in the 68th minute. However, it didn’t take long for the Polish midfielder to atone for his error, as he played a sublime one-two with Mertens, before an astute finish to give Napoli a two-goal advantage.
Amadou Diawara – 7
Once again, the 20-year-old was one of the best players on the pitch, and one of few that really stood out for Napoli in the first half. Whether shielding the defence, retaining possession, or looking for a decisive pass, Diawara looked the real deal in midfield.
Marek Hamsik - 5
Yet another poor night for the captain, who unfortunately seems to be burdened with the task of matching Diego Maradona’s goal scoring record. Not only did the Slovakian waste a number of goal-scoring opportunities, but he gave possession away cheaply. With both Diawara and Zielinski pushing for starts, Hamsik’s days may be numbered unless he rediscovers his form.
Jose Callejon - 6
The Spaniard’s defensive opportunities kept him penned back for most of the first half, and Callejon only really showed his offensive capabilities in the final half-hour. Having barely had a touch of the ball, he could hardly be blamed for a wasted opportunity in the 70th minute, and the winger could have scored shortly after had he not been brought down.
Dries Mertens – 7
Napoli’s mercurial forward struggled against Shakhtar’s high defensive line, and was caught offside on a number of occasions (although perhaps not always correctly). In spite of this, the it was the Belgian’s perfectly-weighted pass that assisted Zielinski’s goal, and his own movement that saw him head in Napoli’s third of the night.
Lorenzo Insigne – 8
Having excelled against Milan at the weekend, much was expected of Insigne, and once again he rose to the occasion. The Neapolitan’s second half goal from outside the box helped spur his team on, and he proved a constant menace, crossing for Callejon at the back post. This just increases the regrets for Italy fans who wanted to see him against Sweden.
Allan - 6
Much like the Manchester City fixture, Allan’s entrance made an immediate impact. The midfielder’s drive and aggression seemed to stun Shakhtar, and instantly handed Napoli control of the centre of the park.
Rog – N/A
Mario Rui – N/A