Thursday February 18 2021
EL: Napoli crumble in Granada

Decimated Napoli need a miracle to stay in the Europa League after Kenedy scored one and set up another in just two minutes, giving Granada the 2-0 victory.

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The Partenopei had only 12 senior outfield players available for this trip, as injuries ruled out Hirving Lozano, Andrea Petagna, Dries Mertens, Kalidou Koulibaly, Kostas Manolas, Diego Demme, Faouzi Ghoulam, Elseid Hysaj and David Ospina. Granada were in their first ever Europa League campaign, but Roberto Soldado, Luis Milla, German, Angel Montoro, Luis Suarez, Neyder Lozano and Quini were on the treatment table.

Eljif Elmas volleyed over on a corner at the back post, but Granada caused a lot of problems down the right with Kenedy and then Foulquier bursting into the box.

It was a warning, but not heeded, because after a couple of corners, the hosts took the lead. Kenedy curled a great ball to the back post for Yangel Herrera to surprise Giovanni Di Lorenzo with a header.

Barely 90 seconds later, Napoli had tried to go on the attack, but were caught cold by a rapid Darwin Machis counter, setting up Chelsea-owned Kenedy for the precise daisy-cutter angled drive.

Mario Rui’s cross-shot flashed just past both Victor Osimhen and the far post, while an audacious Molina back-heel flick was charged down from six yards.

Lorenzo Insigne was visibly not fit and Osimhen wasted an opportunity when hitting the side-netting rather than pulling back for his teammates.

Insigne scuffed a volley, but was offside anyway, and Mario Rui was fortunate Kenedy’s cross was wayward after catching him in possession.

There were signs of life from Napoli with Piotr Zielinski’s introduction, but the Poland international fired over and Osimhen got in Elmas’ way on a Fabian Ruiz through ball.

The Partenopei took the initiative as the game wore on, but again a lack of communication was costly, as Amir Rrahmani nodded a free kick over when he should’ve left it for Osimhen.

Zielinski wasted another good opportunity with a rash effort and Nikola Maksimovic made a decisive block on Antonio Puertas after a counter-attack.

Osimhen’s half-volley on the turn from a dinked free kick was too sluggish to beat Rui Silva. Yet despite all their possession, Napoli risked conceding a third in stoppages, Alex Meret getting down to palm Yangel Herrera’s effort round the base of the near post.

Granada 2-0 Napoli

Herrera 19 (G), Kenedy 21 (G)

Granada: Rui Silva; Foulquier, Duarte, Vallejo, Neva (Victor Diaz 78); Gonalons (Brice 78), Herrera; Machis (Puertas 70), Montoro, Kenedy (Soro 70); Molina

Napoli: Meret, Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Maksimovic, Mario Rui; Fabian Ruiz, Lobotka (Bakayoko 64); Politano (Zielinski 46), Elmas, Insigne; Osimhen

Ref: Karasev (RUS)