In­signe beats Buf­fon as Napoli hold PSG

Gulf Times Sport - - SPORT -

Lorenzo In­signe beat for­mer Italy team­mate Gian­luigi Buf­fon from the spot to keep Napoli well in the hunt for a place in the last 16 of the Cham­pi­ons League thanks to a 1-1 draw at home to Paris Saint-Ger­main on Tues­day.

PSG trav­elled to the Sta­dio San Paolo look­ing to go one bet­ter after be­ing held to a 2-2 draw in the French cap­i­tal two weeks ago.

But after Juan Ber­nat capped a dom­i­nant first-half per­for­mance from PSG to hit the opener on the stroke of half-time, In­signe made no mis­take when the hosts were awarded a penalty just after the hour as Jose Calle­jon was sand­wiched in the area.

The re­sult sees Napoli go top of Group C, level on points with Liver­pool fol­low­ing their shock 2-0 de­feat by Red Star Bel­grade ear­lier Tues­day.

But in com­ments to Sky Sport, coach Carlo Ancelotti warned qual­i­fi­ca­tion is not se­cure yet.

“We’ll have to battle un­til the very end, we’re hold­ing on tight,” said Ancelotti.

PSG sit third, only one point adrift, leav­ing Buf­fon with plenty of be­lief in their last-16 chances.

“Paris played a great game, it was a solid per­for­mance and I’m happy be­cause I think we’re on the right road,” Buf­fon told RMC Sport.

“Red Star did both us and Napoli a big favour ear­lier but there’s ev­ery­thing to play for in the fi­nal matches.

“But I’m con­fi­dent be­cause we’re im­prov­ing and each draw for us sends an im­por­tant mes­sage.”

In what was cap­tain Marek Ham­sik’s record 512th ap­pear­ance for Napoli, for­mer team­mate Edin­son Ca­vani played only a cameo role after re­plac­ing An­gel Di Maria for the fi­nal quar­ter­hour.

It left Ney­mar and Kylian Mbappe pulling the strings up front for the vis­i­tors, who pro­duced a strong first 45 min­utes that had Napoli’s de­mand­ing fans frus­trated through­out.

The first real scare for Napoli came on 23 min­utes when

Mbappe ran on to Ney­mar’s loop­ing cross to fire a left-footed

half vol­ley that dipped just over David Ospina’s cross­bar.

After Mertens poked wide of Buf­fon’s up­right after a well­worked free-kick, Kali­dou Koulibaly res­cued the Ital­ians twice in suc­ces­sion with a well-timed tackle on Mbappe and a timely in­ter­cep­tion to pre­vent Mbappe reach­ing Thomas Me­u­nier’s pass.

MBAPPE MAGIC

At the other end, Calle­jon set up In­signe for a deft vol­ley which the diminu­tive Napoli mid­fielder fired a yard wide of Buf­fon’s up­right.

But Napoli’s fans were in de­spair mo­ments later courtesy of more Mbappe magic.

The World Cup star’s pace car­ried him on to a cross down the left and he bam­boo­zled Raul Al­biol be­fore send­ing a deft cut­back into the path of Ber­nat.

The Spa­niard took a touch and, as he fell to the turf, swiped with his right foot to stun Ospina.

A half-time pep talk by Ancelotti ap­peared to have had the de­sired ef­fect when a far more en­ter­pris­ing Napoli emerged after the in­ter­val, with the 40-yearold Buf­fon rolling back the years with some fine saves.

The for­mer World Cup win­ner first stretched to palm Nikola Mak­si­movic’s an­gled ef­fort to safety be­fore guid­ing Mertens’ lobbed ef­fort over the bar mo­ments later.

Napoli should have scored when ac­ro­batic con­trol by Mertens set up Calle­jon to the right of Buf­fon’s goal, but the Spa­niard bun­dled wide.

As PSG pan­icked at the back, Buf­fon palmed Calle­jon’s closerange cross into the path of Mertens only for the Bel­gian to fire over from two yards out.

Napoli fans were fur­ther frus­trated when for­mer Ju­ven­tus leg­end Buf­fon stood his ground to parry Fabian Ruiz’s first-timer fol­low­ing Mertens’ cross.

Buf­fon was fi­nally beaten, but only from the spot, by In­signe’s 62nd-minute penalty.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel in­tro­duced Ca­vani for the fi­nal 14 min­utes while Mertens, hold­ing an in­jured arm, was re­placed by Adam Ou­nas.

The much-needed boost in at­tack failed to ma­te­ri­alise for PSG, who five min­utes from time saw Mbappe some­how sweep his strike from Thilo Kehrer’s de­liv­ery wide of Ospina’s up­right when eight yards from goal.

(Reuters)

Napoli’s Lorenzo In­signe (fore­ground) in ac­tion dur­ing the UEFA Cham­pi­ons League match against Paris Saint-Ger­main in Naples, Italy, on Tues­day.

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