Napoli finish Champions League nice job


Napoli will be in Thursday’s Champions League group stage draw in Monaco, following a 2-0 win over Nice in their playoff second leg.

The result means the Partenopei emerged victorious 4-0 on aggregate thanks to two-goal win in Italy, and lone goals from Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne at the Allianz Riviera Stadium on Tuesday.

Looking to overturn that first leg loss, Nice welcomed talismanic striker Mario Balotelli into the starting XI, alongside fellow Champions League winner with Inter, and new signing Wesley Sneijder.

There were no such surprises in the Partenopei XI as Maurizio Sarri picked his strongest side once again.

A dominant Napoli were on top of their opponents from the off with Dries Mertens causing plenty of issues.

First, forcing a brilliant reaction save from Yoan Cardinale at the near post after capitalising on hesitation from Dante, then having his freekick from 20 yards out deflected wide.

From the resulting corner, Fazoui Ghoulam almost scored direct from the set piece, but the ball flashed across goal and inches wide of the far post.

Again Mertens went close, as he nicked the ball in midfield and ran at the Nice backline before blazing over.

It was Insigne’s turn to get in on the action with a delightful curling effort which was unintentionally headed over the crossbar by Dante.

As the first half drew to a close Mertens went close as he tried to steer in a Ghoulam cross at the near post, but the ball could only find the side netting.

Three minutes after the break Napoli killed the tie through Callejon.

Callejon puts #Napoli up 3-0 on aggregate. Balotelli, not happy #NapoliOGCN #UCL

— dave (@DesTaquito1) August 22, 2017

Marek Hamsik got down the left side and fired in a low cross for the Spaniard who rifled in from close range.

Seconds later, Mertens hit the post from the edge of the area with Cardinale beaten, then Balotelli went right up the other end and curled well wide from the left.

A small flurry of chances for Nice never really tested Pepe Reina in the Napoli goal, while Cardinale was again called into action to deny Insigne with a good save.

Reina was eventually forced into a stop with Ignatius Ganago’s strike needing a strong hand. Sneijder also tried his luck from a freekick, but it never troubled the Napoli goalkeeper.

Insigne wrapped up the match a minute from the end after Ghoulam cut the ball back to the Neapolitan who fired in from the edge of the penalty area.

89′ Buuut de Insigne !!!!#OGCNice 0-2 #Napoli !!#OGCNNapoli #UCL #LDC

— Football_live ???????? (@football_liveFR) August 22, 2017

Nice did hit the crossbar through Pierre Lees Melou just moments later, but in the end a consolation wasn’t forthcoming.

Napoli will find out their group stage opponents in the draw at 1800 CEST, 1700 UK time, on Thursday.

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