Napoli beat Ben­fica, both teams go through

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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

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