Napoli again wasted far too many scoring opportunities and had some shaky defending, as Chucky Lozano earned a 1-1 home draw with RB Salzburg.
The Partenopei won a 3-2 thriller in Austria, which put them in a position to qualify for the Round of 16 tonight if they won and Genk failed to beat Liverpool.
Allan was out of action, with Kostas Manolas only fit for the bench, but Carlo Ancelotti opted for the front two of Dries Mertens and Hirving Lozano. RB Salzburg relied on 19-year-old Erling Haaland, who had 22 goals in just 16 competitive games this season, including six in three Champions League matches. Cican Stankovic pulled a hamstring against Napoli, so Carlos Miguel Coronel went in goal.
Jerome Onguene brought down Chucky Lozano on the edge of the box, so on the resulting free kick, Coronel made a flying save on Lorenzo Insigne’s curler.
Both teams were guilty of horrible misses early on, as Onguene turned a totally free header wide from a corner, then Piotr Zielinski fired over undisturbed from just inside the box.
Kalidou Koulibaly mistimed his tackle on Hee-Chang Hwang to give away an inevitable penalty, which Haaland converted by sending Alex Meret the wrong way.
Napoli should’ve equalised moments later, but Jose Callejon was found at the back post for a header back across the face of goal, which bounced off the far upright.
The chances kept coming, as Wober volleyed wide on a corner when unmarked, then Insigne failed to get on the end of a Callejon cross and Lozano’s curler was fingertipped round the post.
Insigne blasted another very promising move over the bar after a great Fabian Ruiz run, but they finally made all those scoring opportunities count on the stroke of half-time.
Chucky Lozano sprung the offside trap on an Insigne through ball, cut inside and drilled low into the near bottom corner from just outside the box.
Napoli got away with a huge scare after the restart, as a ricochet sent Hwang clear, but he scuffed his finish on the turn. Insigne’s luck really wasn’t in, as his looping cross-shot bounced off the crossbar, hit the goalkeeper on the back of the head and bounced back out.
Insigne also wasted another promising counter, firing over the bar, while substitute Fernando Llorente’s header was just wide on a corner.
Napoli 1-1 RB Salzburg
Haaland pen 11 (S), Lozano 44 (N)
Napoli: Meret; Di Lorenzo, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Mario Rui (Luperto 46); Callejon, Fabian Ruiz, Zielinski, Insigne; Lozano (Llorente 86), Mertens (Milik 73)
RB Salzburg: Coronel; Pongracic (Mwepu 46), Onguéné, Wober; Kristensen, Minamino (Ashimeru 61), Junuzovic, Szoboszlai, Ulmer; Haaland, Hwang
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