Napoli beat Benfica, both teams go through
Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens sent Napoli into the last 16 of the Champions League with a 2-1 win at Benfica yesterday while the Portuguese champions scraped through after rivals Besiktas were thumped by Dynamo Kiev.
Callejon broke clear and dinked the ball over Benfica goalkeeper Ederson in the 60th minute and substitute Mertens sealed a convincing win for the Serie A side in the Group B match with a superb individual effort.
Raul Jimenez pulled back a late goal for a disappointing Benfica who were rescued by previously winless Dynamo Kiev as the Ukrainians thrashed Besiktas 6-0 in the other group game.
Napoli topped the group with 11 points followed by Benfica on eight and Besiktas one behind on seven. Dynamo, already eliminated, finished with five points. Benfica, unbeaten at home in all competitions since they lost to Porto last February, started the game needing a win while Napoli needed a draw to qualify without depending on the Besiktas result. However, a Besiktas defeat meant both sides would go through whatever happened in Lisbon and the match lost its edge as the Turkish champions went 3-0 down after little more than half an hour. Napoli were the more dangerous side and Manolo Gabbiandini had a goal disallowed for offside while Ederson made good saves to deny Callejon and then Gabbiadini.
Jimenez had Benfica’s best first-half effort when he forced his way past two Napoli defenders but his shot was saved by Pepe Reina, one of the few moments in which the hosts threatened.
Gabbiadini had a shot deflected wide by Luisao at the start of the second half then Lorenzo Insigne sent Callejon clear but the former Real Madrid forward put his shot high and wide.
The Spaniard made amends on the hour, however, when a Mertens flick again put him in the clear and this time he made no mistake.
Benfica lost their composure and Mertens struck in the 79th minute, collecting the ball on the edge of the area before jinking his way past two defenders and firing a low shot in off the post.
Benfica fans began leaving the Stadium of Light and many missed their team’s consolation goal when Raul Albiol gifted the ball to Jimenez who easily beat Reina. —AP
MANCHESTER: Manchester City’s Nolito, right, and Celtic’s goalkeeper Craig Gordon challenge for the ball during the Champions League group C soccer match between Manchester City and Celtic at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, yesterday. — AP