Napoli honoured Diego Armando Maradona and got the 2-0 result they needed against Rijeka, with Hirving Lozano and an own goal forced by Matteo Politano.
The match was utterly dominated by the news just 24 hours earlier that Diego Armando Maradona had passed away at the age of 60. The local Mayor announced the Stadio San Paolo would be renamed in his honour and although the game was behind closed doors due to the pandemic, thousands crowded outside to pay tribute, including Lorenzo Insigne and kit man Tommaso Starace, who laid flowers outside the Curva B. The team warmed up to the famous Live is Life and the minute’s silence was filled with the applause and songs from outside the arena. The Napoli players all walked onto the pitch wearing Maradona 10 jerseys.
Eljif Elmas got on the end of a Giovanni Di Lorenzo cross to the back post and couldn’t keep it on target, then Diego Demme’s spectacular volley flashed just wide.
Andrea Petagna fired straight at the goalkeeper after a defensive error, though Nevistic had a much tougher intervention to make when Matteo Politano managed to toe-poke a through ball at full stretch.
Di Lorenzo was sent clear on goal, but is not a natural scorer and Nevistic rushed off his line to parry one-on-one.
Tiemoue Bakayoko nodded over from a corner, but the deadlock was finally broken when Piotr Zielinski got down the left and rolled it across the six-yard box for Politano to come sliding in ahead of Anastasio. However, UEFA credited it as an own goal, a real pity for Armando Anastasio, who grew up supporting Napoli.
Rijeka fought back, as Alex Meret needed two tricky saves in quick succession on Loncar and a more powerful Muric strike.
Andrea Petagna should’ve made it 2-0 when he came sliding onto a cross from the right but couldn’t keep the ball on target, then Nikola Maksimovic incredibly hit the side-netting from close range on a Hirving Lozano assist.
Moments later, Lozano sprung the offside trap on an inspired Lorenzo Insigne ball and took matters into his own hands, calmly beating the goalkeeper one-on-one.
Insigne thought he’d found the net too late on when going clear on a smart Mertens through ball, but couldn’t beat the goalkeeper one-on-one. Nevistic impressed again with a fingertip save at full stretch to push Stanislav Lobotka’s curler round the post.
As AZ Alkmaar and Real Sociedad drew 0-0, this allows Napoli to go top of the Europa League group.
Napoli 2-0 Rijeka
Anastasio og 41 (N), Lozano 75 (N)
Napoli: Meret; Di Lorenzo, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Bakayoko, Demme (Lobotka 69); Politano (Lozano 64), Zielinski (Insigne 64), Elmas (Mertens 69); Petagna (Fabian Ruiz 81)
Rijeka: Nevistic; Velkoski, Galovic, Smolcic; Tomecak, Cerin (Hodza 87), Loncar, Anastasio (Braut 80); Muric (Yateke 78), Stefulj, Andrijasevic (Frigan 87)
Ref: Ozkahya (TUR)