Thursday October 22 2015
EL: Napoli conquer Midtjylland

Manolo Gabbiadini’s brace and a Jose Callejon stunner maintained Napoli’s perfect Europa League record with a 4-1 win away to Midtjylland.

This was a head-to-head for the top of the group at the Arena Herning, as both sides started with two consecutive victories. As Legia and Club Brugge drew 1-1, the Partenopei are three points clear at the top of the group, eight points clear of third place.

Dries Mertens missed the trip to Denmark through injury, but Gabbiadini was given a rare start. Erik Sviatchenko had the ball in the net early on, but was penalised for a push on Mirko Valdifiori, then Daniel Royer hit the side-netting from a knocked-down free kick.

Napoli broke the deadlock with a stunning cheeky finish from Callejon. He watched a Kalidou Koulibaly long ball drop over his shoulder and with a delicate flick lobbed goalkeeper Mikkel Andersen from 10 yards.

The Partenopei doubled their lead when Allan burst down the right and crossed for Manolo Gabbiadini to volley in at full stretch.

Allan also forced a save and Callejon’s header looped on to the roof of the net, but Gabbiadini got the third with another spectacular finish. His trademark left-foot curler bounced in off the woodwork at the far top corner, giving the goalkeeper no chance.

Midtjylland did pull one back moments later, as a corner was not dealt with and Daniel Royer’s shot from the edge of the box took a double deflection, Pusic eventually getting the decisive touch.

Callejon smacked an effort against the frame of the goal before half-time with another strange looping finish. The Spaniard also threatened after the restart, his angled drive flashing inches past the far post.

Midtjylland thought they’d re-opened the game on 77 minutes when Royer’s shot beat Pepe Reina, but Koulibaly read the situation well and got back for a decisive goal-line clearance.

Deep into stoppages, Reina fingertipped an Awer Mabil cross-shot on to the bar, then kept out Royer at the near post.

Gonzalo Higuain had the final word in Denmark, as he exchanged passes with Omar El Kaddouri to fire across the goalkeeper with the last kick of the game.

That also means Napoli’s goal difference in the Europa League after three rounds is 11 goals scored, one conceded.

Midtjylland 1-4 Napoli

Scorers: Callejon 19 (N), Gabbiadini 31, 40 (N), Pusic 43 (M), Higuain 94 (N)

Midtjylland: M Andersen; Romer, K Hansen, Sviatchenko, Novak; Duelund (Mabil 73), Sparv, J Poulsen, Royer; Rasmussen (M Larsen 73), Pusic (Onuachu 62)

Napoli: Reina; Maggio, Chiriches, Koulibaly, Ghoulam (Strinic 81); Allan (Hamsik 60), Valdifiori, David Lopez; El Kaddouri, Callejon (Higuain 64), Gabbiadini

Ref: Gozubuyuk (NED)

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