Six goals, many chances, great atmosphere, and furious Napoli.
It seems that Gonzalo Higuain’s leaving didn’t effect the team from “San Paolo”. From their start and performances so far, they have been more productive in some areas than before.
Right from the beginning of the match, it’s had been clear that both teams would play to win.
In the first minute, Arkadiusz Milik welcomed Benfica’s goalkeeper Julio Cezar with low , middle goal shot, but it didn’t have enough power to make any problems.
Then in two occasions Konstantinos Mitroglu had scoring opportunities. First one with the header, and second one couple minutes later when he reacted quickly in the box, but his shot was direct in the middle of the goal and was saved.
High game tempo have been displayed, and that caused for the goal to happen, soon after these two chances.
Corner from the right side taken by the Ghoulam to the near post where Marek Hamsik run into space and headed the ball into the top right corner of Benfica goal. Eruption on the stands of “San Paolo”.
Neither team scored until the end of the halftime, but the game was extremely interesting, and fans have been amused by good performance on the pitch.
The second half had most important things in football. Goals and some of them were beauties.
Napoli Furia !!
That is how we can describe the period between 51st and 58ht minute. Just in seven minutes, they have scored three goals.
Serie was opened with Dries Mertens free-kick beauty. He curled the ball above the wall and into the left side of Julio Cesar goal. Elegantly and with style.
Three minutes later, already mentioned Julio Cesar, brought down Jose Callejon, he received a yellow card, and Milik scored from the penalty spot, with the low hard left side shot.
And then to conclude series, again Dries Mertens. The ball was headed from Milik, falls into his area and he put’s it into the goal.
Later on, Napoli pressured Benfica with a little less aggressive approach, but they still were threatening them.
One bad move for Napoli and they have conceded a goal. 70th minute, bad pass to the defense from the middle, and 19-years old Guedes stole the ball, run towards goal and puts the ball into the net, crossing Pepe Reina from the right side.
For this young player who came in 7 minutes, earlier this was a huge boost.
After this goal, the tempo slowed down, Napoli players didn’t want any risk regarding injuries or bookings from the referee.
Five minutes before ending, Almeida made such a lovely pass trough the middle of defense, between two players, Salvio managed to control the ball and make extra few steps and then easily just push the ball beside Reina into right low corner of the goal. Salvio too came in from the bench which proves that visitor team coach Rui Vitorio made the right choice by letting this two player on the pitch. Benfica managed to preserve their dignity after scoring these two goals.
One statistical fact. This duel had 77 duels and over a thousand passes on both sides. That can tell you what kind of game this was, full of energy, desire, fair combat. Spectator enjoyed watching this Champions League spectacle.
Napoli won the match, they have absolutely deserved this victory. They had more creative players today, Mertens, Milik, Hamsik, and they had that ferocious 7 minutes in the second half when they scored three goals.
Benfica missed their opportunities in the beginning of the match. If Mitrouglu scored at least once, the game would have developed in a much brighter way for Portuguese club. But it didn’t.
Man of the match undoubtedly was Dries Mertens. Two goals, a constant threat to Benfica’s goal. The first goal will probably be one of the most beautiful in this round. He covered any part of the field, always on time, many passes were sent to him, always pushing the back line of Benfica.
The excellent display was shown by Milik too. One goal, one assist. This strong Polish player made everyone quickly to forgot about their “traitor” Higuain. For now, he is scoring goals, making a lot of chances, heading the ball down to the side players. He really is one of the most important players in Napoli.
Konstantinos Mitroglu didn’t have any luck today. Two or three good chances all wasted. As we mentioned before if he had scored once, it would be a different game. But he didn’t. And that is his tragedy for today.
Napoli is first in group B with two wins and six scored goals. They are dominating this group so far and for all seen by now, they are main favorites for first place.
Benfica suffered another disappointment. After losing two points in the last minute of the game, against Besiktas, they were hammered by Napoli. They are in a difficult position and they need to start winning if they want to qualify for next stage. They are in the bottom of the group because of goal difference, but Besiktas has just one point more and Dinamo Kyev also has one point like them.