Thursday February 21 2013
EL: Napoli crash out in Plzen

Napoli are out of the Europa League after they failed to complete the miracle turnaround, losing 2-0 away to Viktoria Plzen.

The Partenopei knew their chances of qualification were minimal after a shock 3-0 home defeat in the first leg. Marek Hamsik was ill, while Edinson Cavani, Paolo Cannavaro and Gokhan Inler were rested under the Czech snow. Walter Mazzarri took the opportunity to experiment a new 4-3-3 formation with Emanuele Calaiò getting his first start since the January move from Siena.

Viktoria Plzen seemed determined to quash any lingering hope Napoli might have and came out with a sparkling start, as Frantisek Rajtoral turned Marco Donadel and his pass across the face of goal went past everyone.

Insigne unleashed a screamer from 30 metres that stung the goalkeeper’s palms, while Matus Kozacik was somewhat shaky on a Calaiò snapshot too.

Blerim Dzemaili’s powerful strike was charged down in the box, but Plzen nearly scored on 28 minutes when a corner was whipped into the six-yard box by Pavel Horvath and Rolando did just enough to put Marek Bakos off, as he prodded inches wide of the back post.

Insigne was easily Napoli’s most aggressive player in Plzen and drilled just wide after a promising run down the left. Insigne was surging forward in a give-and-go with Calaiò, but the veteran’s return pass was over-hit.

Walter Mazzarri went for it in the second half, throwing on Cavani and Inler for Donadel and Valon Behrami. It was a risky tactic and Bakos turned a free header over the bar within 60 seconds of the restart, while Morgan De Sanctis had to save an angled drive on the counter-attack.

Moments later Viktoria did indeed extend their lead to 4-0 on aggregate. A Horvath cross from the left was not cleared effectively and Jan Kovarik had plenty of time to shoot on the half-volley. The finish was straight at De Sanctis, but the goalkeeper let it squirm under his body and roll across the line.

Cavani drilled inches wide from distance and turned a free kick off target too, while Pandev mis-kicked from a Maggio assist.

Viktoria Plzen were clinical and took another chance, as substitute Stanislav Tecl curled a fine finish round De Sanctis just inside the far post.

It was almost 3-0, as De Sanctis fumbled a Vladimir Darida effort, but was able to recover. Maggio set up Calaiò, who turned just wide with the outside of his left boot.

In the final six minutes, Radim Reznik nearly scored a spectacular goal, his volley cracking against the Napoli crossbar from a Kovarik floated cross.

Insigne was the last to give in for the Partenopei and Kozacik let the powerful shot slip through his fingers, but the goalkeeper was able to scramble back before it crossed the line.

Kozacik again beat away an Insigne attempt, while Cavani’s strong run was finished only by a soft strike straight into his arms.

Viktoria Plzen 2-0 Napoli (5-0 on agg)

Scorers: Kovarik 51 (V), Tecl 74 (V)

Viktoria Plzen: Kozacik; Reznik, Cisovsky, Prochazka, Limbersky; Darida, Horvath; Rajtoral (Fillo 84), Kolar (Stipek 89), Kovarik; Bakos (Tecl 57)

Napoli: De Sanctis; Maggio, Gamberini (Cannavaro 66), Rolando, Zuniga; Dzemaili, Donadel (Cavani 46), Behrami (Inler 46); Pandev, Calaiò, Insigne

Ref: Kassai (HUN)

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