Napoli 2-4 Manchester City: Champions League result, report
Goals by Nicolás Otamendi, John Stones, Sergio Agüero and Raheem Sterling saw City beat Napoli and reach the knockout stages.
Sergio Agüero became Manchester City's all-time top goalscorer as Pep Guardiola's men beat Napoli in Italy to qualify for the Champions League last 16 in style on Wednesday evening.
No Premier League team had ever previously beaten the Partenopei on home turf, but strikes by Nicolás Otamendi, John Stones, Agüero and Raheem Sterling saw City break that hoodoo in a game that promised goals - and delivered.
Insigne fires Napoli into deserved first-half lead
Defeat leaves Napoli facing elimination, but it was the Italians who began much the better at the Stadio San Paolo, deservedly taking a 21st-minute lead when Lorenzo Insigne finished neatly across Ederson Moraes.
City respond to turn scoreboard on its head
Having been second best for 25 minutes, City then found their stride, and equalised through an Otamendi header just after the half-hour mark, before finishing the first half well on top.
The visitors came out for the second 45 in equally dominant mood, and just three minutes into the period Stones nodded them in front off the crossbar.
Napoli level, but record-breaking Agüero and Sterling win it for City
However, Napoli came back at their guests, and were handed a lifeline on the hour when Leroy Sané felled Raúl Albiol in the box and referee Felix Brych pointed to the spot without hesitation.
Jorginho coolly beat Ederson to equalise - and, within minutes, City's keeper had to save excellently to prevent José Callejón from putting the hosts ahead.
But just moments later, Agüero moved on to a club-record 178 City goals and knocked the stuffing out of Napoli, the Argentine striker picking up the loose ball on a counter-attack and sweeping expertly past Pepe Reina.
Sterling's angled stoppage-time shot then completed the win.
City out to secure top spot, Napoli facing early exit
With Shakhtar Donetsk beating Feyenoord 3-1 in Group F's other clash, Napoli are now six points behind the Ukrainians - with just two games left.
Meanwhile, City sit three points ahead of Shakhtar and in pole position to secure first place in the group.
Napoli 2-4 Manchester City: as it happened
Napoli vs Manchester City live online: match preview
The fourth round of fixtures in Champions League Group F pits the leaders of the Premier League and Serie A against each other in the San Paolo with Napoli in desperate need of a positive result against Pep Guardiola’s swashbuckling free-scorers: Maurizio Sarri’s side are currently in the Europa League berth and three points adrift of Shakhtar Donetsk.
Napoli have rattled in 32 Serie A goals and have yet to be beaten domestically while City have managed 35 goals in 10 Premier League games this season and haven’t failed to win a game since August 21 when they were held to a 1-1 draw at the Etihad against Everton.
Guardiola’s side have now won 13 games in a row in all competitions and are unbeaten in their past 21 fixtures, both of which represent new club records.
Napoli, for their part, have set the early pace in Serie A and are holding off Inter Milan and Juventus as they seek a first Scudetto since 1989-90. That may well be a more realistic target than European glory as Napoli have never been beyond the last 16 of the Champions League but Sarri will not be eager to see his side condemned to the grueling slog of Uefa’s ugly sister tournament and will send out his side to beat Guardiola’s at their own game: 0-0 it probably won’t be.
Napoli are playing catch-up after being beaten in two of their three Champions League fixtures so far. A 2-1 defeat at the Etihad - where Sarri’s side fought their way back into the game after conceding twice in the opening 15 minutes – was perhaps expected but the same score line against Shakhtar in Kharkiv certainly bust a few midweek coupons.
Sarri identified City’s ability to hit early and hard during his pre-match press conference: “We have to try to push them out into deep water, otherwise they are likely to be one or two goals ahead after 30 minutes,” the well-travelled tactician said. “They have a devastating force of impact on matches and they have scored so many of their goals in the first 20 minutes. Their matches that I have seen have all been over by the 70th minute.”
Both sides favour a 4-3-3 formation and Napoli’s attack of Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and José Callejón are equally as fleet of foot as City’s. However, the Partenopei have not carried their domestic scoring prowess into Europe and have conceded as many (5) as they have managed at the other end, an issue that Sarri must resolve to see his side victorious in the San Paolo.
“Nobody is unbeatable. But they’re the best team in Europe, led by the best coach in Europe,” the Napoli boss noted simply.
City require just a single point in the San Paolo to secure their place in the last 16 with two games to spare but Guardiola said his side would remain true to their attacking ethos in Italy. “Why play for a draw when we can play for a win?” he said. "We have a big, big challenge. There are moments we will have to defend like never before and I will see how the team react.”
Napoli will also be on the back foot from the outset in what promises to be an open, flowing encounter between two of Europe’s most exciting attacking sides. Sarri identified City keeper Ederson as “their most dangerous player” because of the Brazilian’s ability to launch attacks from the back in line with chapter one, paragraph one of Guardiola’s coaching guide book.
Midfielder David Silva also lauded Ederson and noted that City are in a rich vein of form across every position. “We are playing really good football, beautiful football. We are playing well in all the lines. From the goalkeeper on, you can see it in every game,” said the Spain international, whose medal collection lacks only the Champions League.
In Kevin de Bruyne, Guardiola possesses perhaps the finest attacking midfielder in Europe at the moment and the Belgian’s battle for supremacy with Marek Hamsik will provide one of the most interesting sub-plots to the game. De Bruyne has provided eight assists already this season and it instrumental in City’s swift transitions from defence to attack, gliding through the lines and using his innate ability to pick a ball nobody else – with the possible exception of Silva – can envision.
Although a yellow away from a suspension against Feyenoord, De Bruyne will be tasked with proving the supply line to Sergio Agüero, who was rested at the weekend against West Brom, with Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané lending their speed and craft to the wings in support of the Argentinean, who needs just one goal to overtake Eric Brook as City’s highest goal scorer of all time.
Napoli vs Manchester City live online: possible line-ups
Napoli XI: Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejón, Mertens, Insigne.
Coach: Maurizio Sarri
Manchester City XI: Ederson; Delph, Otamendi, Stones, Walker; Silva, Fernandinho, De Bruyne; Sterling, Agüero, Sané.
Coach: Pep Guardiola
Napoli vs Manchester City live online: selected betting odds
The 0-0 draw is unsurprisingly marked up at 16/1 while the same result as the first leg, a 2-1 City win, pays out at 17/2. Sergio Agüero and Dries Mertens are both priced at 7/2 to open the scoring.