NEWS
Thursday October 22 2020
EL: Napoli stunned by AZ Alkmaar

Napoli open their Europa League campaign with a shock home defeat to an AZ Alkmaar side hit hard by COVID-19, as a defensive lapse proved costly.

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The Partenopei stuck with the 4-2-3-1 formation that smashed Atalanta 4-1 at the weekend, as Lorenzo Insigne was only fit for the bench, Stanislav Lobotka stepped in for Tiemoue Bakayoko. There were some doubts AZ would make the trip at all, as nine players were out with COVID-19, although the only one who had been expected to start was Myron Boadu. Napoli, of course, were still missing Piotr Zielinski and Eljif Elmas after positive tests.

Chucky Lozano had a penalty appeal waved away when he failed to get on the end of a Matteo Politano cross to the back post, as he was being held by the arm. There is no VAR in the Europa League group phase, so there could be no review.

There were close calls at both ends caused by wayward passes, first Yukinari Sugawara and then Dries Mertens drilling inches wide.

Kalidou Koulibaly nodded a corner over the bar, but for all Napoli’s possession, they were rarely dangerous and were caught out when AZ took the lead.

Svensson got to the by-line and pulled back for De Wit, who was allowed to fire in from seven yards relatively undisturbed, escaping Koulibaly’s grasp.

Lorenzo Insigne made his comeback from injury and Mario Rui put a fine cross on the head of Osimhen, but the Nigerian’s finish was weak and straight at the goalkeeper.

Andrea Petagna came off the bench and his diving header was not far wide, as Napoli laid siege to the AZ box with a series of crosses and Politano’s left-foot scorcher was deflected to skim the upright.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo went sliding in at the back post, unable to fully control the Insigne cross, but the Partenopei were simply unable to turn their possession into goals or even particularly impressive chances.

Napoli 0-1 AZ Alkmaar

De Wit 57 (A)

Napoli: Meret; Di Lorenzo, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Hysaj (Mario Rui 58); Lobotka (Demme 66), Fabian Ruiz; Politano (Bakayoko 83), Mertens, Lozano (Insigne 58); Osimhen (Petagna 66)

AZ Alkmaar: Bizot; Svensson, Hatzdiakos, Martins Indi, Wijndal; Midtsjo (Leeuwin 88), Stengs, Koopmeiners; Sugawara, De Wit, Karlsson (Gudmundsson 88)

Ref: Stefanski (POL)