Edinson Cavani scored
twice to give erratic Napoli a 2-1 win over Manchester City on
Tuesday, leaving the big-spending Premier League side facing the
prospect of the Europa League instead of the Champions League
Napoli moved up to second place in Group A with eight
points, one ahead of City, with one match each to play.
With leaders Bayern Munich already into the knockout stages
after a 3-1 win over Villarreal, Napoli will also qualify if
they win at pointless Villarreal on December 7 while City must beat
Bayern and hope for the best.
Mario Balotelli, suffering from a bout of sickness according
to coach Roberto Mancini, replied for City in between Cavani's
goals but missed a couple of chances to equalise in a tense
His frustration boiled over in the second half when he got a
yellow card for arguing with the referee.
City enjoyed abundant possession and created plenty of
openings but struggled to cope with a passionate San Paolo crowd
and opponents who played on the break to great effect.
Napoli's attacking trio of Marek Hamsik, Ezequiel Lavezzi
and Cavani looked dangerous every time they went forward,
slicing holes in the City defence.
On paper, it had looked a mismatch between the unbeaten
Premier League leaders and a side who are a modest seventh in
City have spent five or six times more on their team than
the Serie A club, according to Napoli President Aurelio Di
"At the start I was worried," said Napoli coach Walter
Mazzarri. "They looked strong, confident, I didn't think we
would win, I thought it was a risky match, but the more the
match was progressing, the team grew in confidence and the more
I felt we could do it."
City began confidently but Napoli looked dangerous with
every attack. Hamsik headed straight at Joe Hart from Lavezzi's
cross, then Lavezzi himself fired wide after a one-two with
The Uruguayan, struggling to repeat last season's prolific
scoring this term, gave Napoli the lead in the 18th minute when
he flicked on a corner and the ball deflected off two City
players into the net.
Almost immediately, Cavani struck the side-netting following
another quick break but the Napoli storm then blew itself out
and City levelled in the 33rd minute.
Edin Dzeko crossed, Salvatore Aronica sent a dreadful
clearance straight to David Silva in the penalty area and,
although his angled shot was saved by Morgan De Sanctis,
Balotelli was on hand to snap up the rebound.
City appeared to be on top but it was Napoli who regained
the lead four minutes after the restart.
Lavezzi worked an opening for Andrea Dossena on the left and
he pulled the ball back into the middle for Cavani to side-foot
The Italian side fell back into defence and frustrated City
but were always dangerous on the break. Lavezzi forced a superb
save from Hart after slipping his marker, then Hamsik hit the
Napoli were forced to defend desperately in a gripping final
15 minutes. De Sanctis saved a clever Balotelli volley and
stopped another awkward shot from the Italian following a
"Our target was to go into the second stage, we depend on
the other team but in football everything can happen," Mancini
"It's important we win our game against Bayern Munich and
our life doesn't finish if we don't go through."
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