Napoli booked their place in the last 16 of the Europa League tonight, with a convincing aggregate 5-1 victory over FC Zurich. Ancelotti used tonight as an opportunity rest some first team players, making 6 changes from the weekend, and it showed early on. Zurich who had nothing to lose, started the game the brightest, pressing high and dominating the early stages.
It took Napoli half an hour to settle into the game, but when they did they showed their class. They took the lead in the 43rd minute when Adam Ounas took on three players before dinking a lovely ball into Verdi’s path for him to slot home.
The second half was played at a slower pace, with Zurich seemingly resigned to exiting the competition, and Napoli took advantage and doubled their lead in the 75th minute when Mertens fed Ounas, who fired home from an angle.
Stiffer competition can be expected in the latter rounds of the competition, but Napoli will be pleased with their efforts tonight, winning comfortably despite resting players.
Meret – 6.5 - Didn’t have a save to make, despite some the early pressure from Zurich. Came out well late in the game to smother a Zurich through ball.
Hysaj – 7.5 - Good performance from the Albanian, he got forward well down the right flank, linking nicely with Ounas especially in the first half.
Chiriches – 6.5 - Seemed to be a bit nervous, on a night when he was making his first start of the season. Replaced early in the second half.
Koulibaly – 7.5 - Another solid game from the big man. Held the defence together early on when they were under considerable pressure. It was a typical dominating performance from him.
Ghoulam – 7 - Found himself exposed at times down the left, but defended well on the whole. He should have had a penalty early in the second half when he had his legs taken from underneath him. Ounas – 8.5 - Napoli’s best player tonight. He played a couple of lovely passes early on to set Insigne and Verdi through, before a moment of magic to create the first goal for Verdi. Capped his performance with a well-taken finish from a Mertens pass.
Diawara – 7.5 - An impressive game from the young midfielder tonight. He did all he could to stake a claim for more minutes in the business end of the season. Looked strong and added a layer of security to the defence.
Zielinksi – 7 - Deployed centrally tonight, and looked very composed, without overly exerting himself, until he was replaced in the 66th minute.
Verdi – 7.5 - Clinical finish for the opening goal. He struggled to get into the game much apart from that, but he will be pleased to get on the scoresheet on his first start of 2019
Mertens – 7.5 - Lovely ball to Ounas for the second goal, but he will be a little disappointed not to have troubled the Zurich defence more.
Insigne – 7 - Quiet night for him tonight, had one great chance in the first half when he was put through by Zielinski, but his volley flew wide of the near post. Intelligent runs but faded in the second half.
Luperto – 6.5 - Looked comfortable when called upon but in truth didn’t have much to do after coming on in the 56th minute.
Allan – 7 - Looked good when he came on, he had a hand in the second goal and helped Napoli raise the tempo when he came on after a subdued start to the second half.
Milik – 6.5 - Wonderful effort not long after coming on, opening up onto his left foot and whipping an effort towards the top corner, that the keeper just managed to tip over the bar. Should have scored late on when he was inches away from converting a cross.
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