NEWS
Thursday February 27 2014
EL: Napoli squeeze past Swansea

Napoli made life extremely difficult for themselves, but eventually squeezed past Swansea City 3-1.

The first leg ended 0-0 in Wales, so the Partenopei knew that a score draw would knock them out of the Europa League. Marek Hamsik and Dries Mertens were benched in favour of Goran Pandev and Lorenzo Insigne, while Pepe Reina was the only option in goal after Rafael snapped knee ligaments in the first leg. Jorginho is unavailable for European competition. Swansea missed Michu and Jonjo Shelvey for this trip.

Lorenzo Insigne had an early solo effort off target, but Swansea were very dangerous on the counter-attack. After 10 minutes Marvin Emnes got away down the right and drew out Reina, but Raul Albiol got back for a decisive goalline clearance on the flick.

Gonzalo Higuain ballooned over the bar from a Pandev assist, but the goal arrived moments later.

The cross was flicked on by Higuain and allowed Insigne to spring the offside trap, so the local lad kept his cool for a delightful lob over the on-rushing Michel Vorm.

Wilfried Bony sprung the offside trap only to send a header well wide and the Swansea equaliser had been coming. It arrived when Jonathan De Guzman ran on to a Bony through ball to find a huge gap in the middle of Napoli’s defence, firing past Reina despite the goalkeeper getting a hand to it.

With this result, Swansea would be qualified on the away goals rule. Reina smothered a long-range Hernandez effort and the goalkeeper ran off his line to clear from Routledge.

Bony took advantage of Henrique losing his footing to get a shot away, well blocked by Reina, but Napoli seemed sluggish and ran risks at the back. It was a similar performance to their disappointing 1-1 draw with Genoa at the weekend, so Marek Hamsik replaced a disappointing Pandev.

Swansea had penalty appeals, but Dwight Tiendalli flew to the ground rather dramatically over Faouzi Ghoulam’s ankle.

Pablo Hernandez skipped past two before his shot was charged down by Albiol, then Insigne followed his lead with a similar move that stung Vorm’s gloves. Bony wasted a great chance by aiming his header straight at Reina on the counter-attack.

Higuain got the goal out of nowhere, as Chico deflected a cross and it bounced off Ben Davies, so Pipita was quickest of all to react and blast home from eight yards.

Mertens flashed a ball across the face of goal that nobody was able to tap in, as the goal appeared to revive Napoli’s confidence.

Swansea laid siege to Reina’s goal in the final minutes and the former Liverpool goalkeeper flew to fingertip a Tiendalli header out from under the crossbar.

Napoli had the chance to put it all beyond doubt with a counter-attack two-against-one, but Marek Hamsik and Higuain kept passing it to each other and eventually Pipita’s shot was charged down by Davies.

Reina also denied Bony’s acrobatic volley into the ground, but Gokhan Inler finally put Swansea down for good by taking one of their numerous counter-attacks. He kept his cool to slide the finish under the on-rushing Vorm.

Napoli 3-1 Swansea (3-1 on agg)

Scorers: Insigne 17 (N), De Guzman 30 (S), Higuain 78 (N), Inler 93 (N)

Napoli: Reina; Maggio, Henrique, Albiol, Ghoulam; Inler, Behrami; Insigne (Mertens 68), Pandev (Hamsik 59), Callejon (Britos 85); Higuain

Swansea: Vorm; Tiendalli, Williams, Chico, B Davies; Canas, De Guzman (Pozuelo 82); Routledge (Dyer 62), Emnes (Taylor 70), Pablo Hernandez; Bony

Ref: Hategan (ROU)

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