Dries Mertens scored two splendid goals after the Marek Hamsik opener to beat Red Star Belgrade 3-1, but Napoli aren’t qualified yet.
The result from the Parc des Princes is the problem, as they beat Liverpool 2-1, so it’s still open.
The Partenopei could qualify for the Round of 16 a game early if they won this evening and PSG failed to defeat Liverpool. They were still unbeaten in the tournament, but had drawn 0-0 in Belgrade back in September. Once again, Carlo Ancelotti chose Nikola Maksimovic in a three-and-a-half-man defence, with Dries Mertens partnering Lorenzo Insigne. The Serbians had a lot of injury problems, missing Richmond Boakye (formerly of Juventus, Genoa and Atalanta), Vujadin Savic, Filip Stojkovic and Goran Causic, with Milan Pavkov and Dusan Jovancic only fit for the bench.
Stoiljkovic clattered into David Ospina in the opening minutes, forcing the goalkeeper to receive treatment on his knee.
Dries Mertens almost scored an incredible opener after five minutes, his sensational back-heel flick from a Jose Callejon assist parried from point-blank range by Milan Borjan.
Marek Hamsik broke the deadlock by volleying in a flicked-on corner at the back post, his first goal of the season.
Red Star did have an opportunity when Veljko Simic sprung the offside trap, but the finish was too weak at the near post, allowing Ospina to parry with one hand.
Kalidou Koulibaly’s header was fingertipped over the bar after a Callejon cross, but Mertens got the second with a delightful finish.
Fabian Ruiz whipped in a cross from the left and the little Belgian flicked it with the outside of his right boot from eight yards.
Callejon would’ve had the third, but it was charged down from close range by Milan Rodic.
Raul Albiol had a knock to the ankle in the first half and went off for Elseid Hysaj, moving Maksimovic to centre-back.
Lorenzo Insigne sprung the offside trap and rolled across for Mertens, but it was a little too far in front of him. It was only a rehearsal, as Mertens controlled a through ball with the outside of his boot, cutting inside the defender, then swept the finish over the goalkeeper. It was the little Belgian’s 100th competitive goal in a Napoli jersey.
However, Red Star got one back with Ben Nabouhane’s well-taken finish, although it was all about the Marko Marin counter-attack and assist.
Fabian Ruiz tried to get in on the act, forcing a save out of Borjan, but Napoli will be forced to wait for their qualification, as Paris Saint-Germain beat Liverpool 2-1.
Napoli 3-1 Red Star Belgrade
Hamsik 11 (N), Mertens 34, 52 (N), Ben Nabouhane 57 (R)
Napoli: Ospina; Maksimovic, Albiol (Hysaj 46), Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Callejon (Rog 86), Allan, Hamsik, Fabian; Insigne (Zielinski 77), Mertens
Red Star Belgrade: Borjan; Gobelijic, Degenek, Babic, Rodic; S Srnic (Jovancic 64), Krsticic, Simic (Ebecilio 77), Marin; Ben Nabouhane; Stoiljkovic (Joveljic 46)
Ref: Manzano (ESP)
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