Lorenzo Insigne had opened the scoring, but Manchester City won 4-2 after Faouzi Ghoulam’s injury, so Napoli are on the verge of Champions League exit.
As Shakhtar Donetsk beat Feyenoord 3-1, this result makes it very unlikely the Italians will be able to secure second place in the group. The lack of strength in depth ultimately proved costly, with only 34-year-old Christian Maggio ready to replace Ghoulam and the players visibly fatigued.
The Partenopei lost 2-1 at the Etihad after recovering from a shocking first 20 minutes, but Dries Mertens saw his penalty parried by Ederson. Maurizio Sarri only missed Arkadiusz Milik and, unlike in Manchester, opted to start Jorginho and Allan. Pep Guardiola had to do without Vincent Kompany and Benjamin Mendy, but Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero was available after fracturing a rib in a taxi crash on September 28. He surprisingly picked Danilo and Ilkay Gundogan instead of Kyle Walker and David Silva.
These sides had only met once before at the San Paolo, a 2-1 home victory in November 2011. However, Man City needed only a point to be sure of qualifying for the Round of 16 here.
Ederson took the sting out of an early Marek Hamsik strike and Dries Mertens should’ve pulled back for his captain rather than shoot straight at the goalkeeper at the near post.
Mertens had the ball in the net, but only after the offside flag had gone up, as the hosts dominated possession early on. The goal had been coming and arrived when Mertens flicked the ball on with his back to goal, completing a give-and-go with Insigne, who curled it over the on-rushing Ederson into the far top corner. It was the first time Pep Guardiola’s men had been trailing since August.
However, there was bad news for Napoli when Faouzi Ghoulam limped off with a knee problem and was replaced by Christian Maggio, moving Elseid Hysaj to left-back.
Moments later, City had their first real chance, Aguero’s counter deflected just wide and after a corner was taken, the Gundogan cross was whipped in from the left to find Nicolas Otamendi’s header at the back post.
Ghoulam was a huge loss and Napoli seemed instantly nervous. John Stones saw his header hit the crossbar from 10 yards after another corner.
The second half did not start in encouraging fashion either, as Raheem Sterling rode four tackles until Raul Albiol flung himself in the way from six yards. However, from that corner, Stones’ header bounced off the underside of the bar and over the line. Much like last season with Real Madrid, the Partenopei’s problems defending set plays were back to the forefront.
Napoli began to take control of possession again and Insigne thought he’d equalised, but his right-foot curler from the edge of the box cannoned off the crossbar.
From a corner, Leroy Sane clumsily tackled Albiol for a penalty. As Mertens saw his saved by Ederson in Manchester, Jorginho stepped up and buried it to equalise.
It was almost 3-2 for the Italians, as Callejon sprung the offside trap only for Ederson to fingertip it over the bar. However, from that corner, City went on a rapid counter and Sergio Aguero fired in relatively undisturbed to make it 3-2 for the visitors. It was an historic goal, his 178th for the club making him Manchester City’s all-time top scorer.
Sane curled a free kick over the bar and Napoli's belief drained out of them again. Reina beat away a Bernardo Silva snapshot late on, but could do nothing on the stoppage-time Sterling counter-attack.
Napoli 2-4 Man City
Insigne 21 (N), Otamendi 34 (M), Stones 48 (M), Jorginho pen 62 (N), Aguero 69 (M), Sterling 92 (M)
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam (Maggio 31); Allan (Rog 74), Jorginho (Ounas 82), Hamsik; Callejon, Mertens, Insigne
Manchester City: Ederson; Danilo, Stones, Otamendi, Delph; Fernandinho, Gundogan (David Silva 70); Sterling, De Bruyne, Sane (Gabriel Jesus 89); Augero (Bernardo Silva 74)
Ref: Brych (GER)
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