NEWS
Thursday February 20 2014
EL: Napoli scrape Swansea draw

Napoli thanked Rafael Cabral and then Pepe Reina for their 0-0 draw in Swansea, an acceptable first leg result.

The Partenopei began their Europa League adventure after going out of the Champions League on goal difference, as they finished joint top of their group with Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund. Federico Fernandez sat out a ban with Juan Camilo Zuniga and Giandomenico Mesto injured, but Gonzalo Higuain was able to start despite a back problem. Swansea sacked Coach Michael Laudrup recently and promoted Gary Monk to the main job, but he was without Michu and Alejandro Pozuelo.

After just a couple of minutes Jose Callejon had a great chance, but his angled drive only skimmed the base of the far post. Moments later Marek Hamsik forced Michel Vorm to fingertip his finish out for a corner.

Rafael also needed a fine save to slap Nathan Dyer’s swerving strike away from the far top corner, then Wilfried Bony blasted wide. A Dyer cross from the right only skimmed Bony’s head and Rafael had to rush off his line to close down Bony, as the centre-backs Miguel Angel Britos and Henrique (on his first start) were looking shaky.

Chico Flores performed a clean and decisive tackle to stop Gokhan Inler’s counter-attack, while Ashley Williams turned a free header over from a corner.

Rafael fingertipped a Routledge curler over the bar and was forced into another great save on Angel Rangel’s looping header from a corner, but he then picked up a knee injury and took a couple of minutes for treatment. The Brazilian continued to grimace and had to make way for Pepe Reina in the second half.

Higuain scuffed his finish from Hamsik’s inspired cross-field ball and Henrique charged down a Pablo Hernandez attempt.

Callejon nutmegged Ben Davies only to blast the finish off target, then Reina beat away a Williams header from a free kick.

Napoli continued to suffer on counter-attacks and Reina flew to palm away a Routledge curler from the left. Chico Flores sprung the offside trap to get a free header on Jonathan De Guzman’s set play, but aimed it straight at Reina.

Swansea 0-0 Napoli

Swansea City: Vorm; Rangel (Shelvey 71), Chico, Williams, B Davies; Canas, Britton; Dyer (Emnes 79), Routledge, Pablo Hernandez (De Guzman 57); Bony

Napoli: Rafael (Reina 46); Maggio, Henrique, Britos, Reveillere; Inler, Dzemaili; Insigne (Mertens 74), Hamsik, Callejon; Higuain (Pandev 84)

Ref: Bebek (CRO)

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