NEWS
Thursday February 22 2018
EL: Napoli out on away goals

Napoli won 2-0 at RB Leipzig and levelled the tie 3-3 on aggregate, winning back some pride, but went out of the Europa League on away goals.

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The Partenopei lost the first leg 3-1 at home after Adam Ounas had given them the lead, making it clear that the Scudetto was their priority. Lorenzo Insigne was back in the starting XI with Dries Mertens and Marek Hamsik in a surprisingly strong starting XI. The hosts missed Naby Keita and defender Willi Orban, while Kevin Kampl and Bruma returned from lay-offs.

The German club showed great hospitality to chain-smoking Maurizio Sarri by erecting a temporary wall in the locker room and switching off the smoke alarms.

Marek Hamsik’s finish was too weak to trouble Peter Gulacsi, but on 14 minutes there was a huge scare for Pepe Reina. Marcel Sabitzer’s volley from the edge of the box was going off target until it ricocheted off Lorenzo Tonelli, looped up and hit the crossbar.

Insigne’s effort was palmed on to the upright, but the striker was caught offside anyway. Napoli were dominating and did break through when Insigne ran on to a Hamsik through ball, his cross-shot was parried into the path of Zielinski by Gulacsi.

There was a big risk on the stroke of half-time, as Pepe Reina came flying off his line and Bruma couldn’t lift it over the goalkeeper.

Reina was quick off his line to smother at the feet of Werner and Zielinski tested Gulacsi, but Upamecano made a decisive sliding tackle to stop Callejon’s cut-back in a very dangerous situation.

With five minutes to go, Napoli doubled their lead on the night and drew level on aggregate, but RB Leipzig were still ahead on away goals. Callejon ran on to a pass down the right, Insigne snuck round the defender to volley in the cross.

Callejon had the chance to win it in stoppages, but his effort sailed over the bar. Napoli ultimately proved their point and that’s all they needed.

RB Leipzig 0-2 Napoli (3-3, RB win on away goals)

Zielinski 33 (N), Insigne 85 (N)

RB Leipzig: Gulacsi; Laimer, Konatè, Upamecano, Bernardo; Sabitzer, Kampl, Demme, Bruma (Forsberg 73); Poulsen, Werner (Augustin 85)

Napoli: Reina; Maggio, Tonelli, Albiol, Mario Rui; Allan, Diawara (Jorginho 82), Hamsik (Callejon 66); Zielinski, Mertens, Insigne

Ref: Taylor (ENG)