There was a lot of hype surrounding Tuesday’s Champions League match between Manchester City and Napoli at the Etihad, and the teams delivered. In what was a very entertaining match filled with intensity and excitement, the two best teams in Europe right now dominated each other in each half, and the only difference between them in the end was better finishing from City: 2-1 to the Blues. What a game.
City started the game really well, pressing Napoli high up the pitch and dealing with the pressure from the Italians with calm and composure. The passing was on point, and the Blues got two early goals: first it was Raheem Sterling who took advantage of a Kyle Walker rebound to fire home the opener, and Gabriel Jesus then made it 2-0 thanks to an incredible low cross from Kevin De Bruyne.
With a two-goal lead inside 15 minutes, City conceded a bit of possession and looked to hit Napoli on the counter, and in one of those counter attacks De Bruyne nearly scored a sensational goal with his left foot, but his shot hit the crossbar. Napoli slowly grew into the game and had a golden chance near the end of the half when Walker grabbed Faouzi Ghoulam inside the box, but Dries Mertens could not convert the penalty thanks to a great save by Ederson with his knee.
At halftime, a very entertaining game had the hosts comfortably ahead, but surely there were more goals to come in the second half.
The second half was completely dominated by Napoli, who took control of the ball and forced City to defend deep inside their box, which is not something the Blues are comfortable with. Despite their dominance, Napoli’s only real chance came after a mistake by Fernandinho, but Hamsik’s shot was brilliantly blocked by John Stones.
The Italians eventually got a goal aftet they got a second penalty thanks to a poor challenge by Fernandinho on Ghoulam in the box, and this time Amadou Diawara easily beat Ederson to make the last 15 minutes very nervous for City fans. Thankfully for us, City managed to control most of the possession in the final minutes and limit Napoli to a few half-chances on set pieces.
This was a very, very, very good game as advertised, and City proved they can beat the best. It was a close game, closer than what we’re used to lately. But Napoli is one of the top teams on Earth today, and these three points are huge.
Man City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Delph; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva (Gundogan); Sterling (Bernardo), Jesus (Danilo), Sané
Goals: Sterling (9’), Gabriel Jesus (13’)
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj (Maggio), Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Zielinski, Diawara, Hamsik (Ounas); Callejón, Mertens, Insigne (Allan)
Goal: Diawara (73’)