Napoli 2 vs Villareal 0By: ciro | September 28th, 2011
Last night Napoli played their first home match in the champions league and won their first three points against a stunned and shaky Villareal. The San Paolo was rocking and packed full with not only the Ultras but with families and plenty of younger people too, it is a good sign to see the crowd enjoying the return to Europe’s elite in a relaxed atmosphere and can only bode well for the future of the club.
Mazzarri played the same starting 11 as the Fiorentina match with just one change, Aronica in for Fideleff. The game started off with a frantic pace, Aronica was booked just after 4 minutes for a tug on Nilmar’s shirt which came after a clearance from Cannavaro hit off Aronica and played Nilmar through. Napoli’s hustled and harried the Villareal players not allowing them any time or space on the ball and it shocked the Spanish team. It was all Napoli in the early part of the game with every Napoli player taking his turn in pushing forward. Campagnaro particularly drove forward with great effect and almost put Zuniga through on a number of occasions. The goal would finally arrive on the 15th minute, from good work on the right again from Campagnaro and Zuniga, Lavezzi joining them and finding some space sent in a cross into the box which caught the Villareal defence napping, a slip from ex Udinese player Zapata left Hamsik all on his own and he volleyed into the far corner.
The game kicked off and straight away Napoli were pushing forward, the hustle in midfield by Gargano and Inler led to a wayward back pass and Lavezzi chased it down where his pace forced Gonzalo to bring him down in the box. Cavani stepped up and fired in the resulting penalty into the right hand corner sending the keeper the wrong way. Napoli 2-0 in the space of 2 minutes.
Villareal were in trouble and Napoli kept up the pressure, pushing forward at every chance, only the linesman flag kept the Yellow Submarines at 2-0. They made a change around the 30 minute mark bringing on Camunas for Gonzalo and and began to press a little higher up the pitch. After the restart Napoli picked up were they left off and Cavani was caught marginally offside. From then on Villareal attacked and got hold of the ball more in midfield although Gargano kept up his intensity of harrying and hustling it was Inler that got tired and and Napoli retreated to defend the line deeper. The defence held firm and kept Villareal to long range shots and half chances, one was a header that De Sanctis caught comfortably. Villareal then went looking for penalties with Nilmar claiming Zuniga fouled him in the box but it was a fair challenge as he was first to the ball. As was Napoli first to every breaking and bouncing ball for the entire match. It was Napoli’s high energy and hunger that made them fight for every ball over every square inch of grass that won this game. Big performances came from Gargano who has been reborn this season and Campagnaro who has been a rock, Aronica too stepped up and kept the Villareal right midfield quiet. He picked up a knock and was on his last legs by the full time whistle but put in a good shift, he will probably be rested for the weekend. Cavani also picked up an injury, it looked like he went over on his ankle and motioned to the bench to be taken off but he reamained on the pitch for a few minutes, long enough for him to chase back to defend win the ball and set up and attack before falling to the ground clutching his ankle. That action sums up his and Napoli game play for the night, lots of running a sacrifice for the team, the hunger to win the first champions league game at home in front of the adoring fans. Pandev replace him and showed he was willing to get in the game and keep up the pressure on the Villareal defence, the same can be said for Mascara who replaced Hamsik and Santana who cam on for Lavezzi. The three subs all kept the tempo up and made sure that Napoli ran out 2-0 winners.
De Sanctis 6.5
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