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    Givanni-Di-Lorenzo

    Napoli held by Union Berlin to put qualification hopes in doubt

    November 9, 2023

     

    Napoli on Wednesday failed to secure a ticket to the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League after being held by Union Berlin at the Diego Maradona stadium.

    Matteo Politano had given the hosts the lead, but they were caught out on the counter-attack for a disappointing draw with Union Berlin.

    Azzurri, which lost 2-3 to Real Madrid in the same stadium, now have 7 points from four games, with Union Braga and Madrid being their next Champions League home and away fixtures, respectively.

    The Germans got the first chance of the game, but Sheraldo Becker’s shot was a weak one straight at Alex Meret.

    Napoli upped the tempo with Piotr Zielinski and Raspadori shots deflected onto the side-netting from tight angles.

    Napoli were close to opening the goal chart within 24 minutes when Natan’s header from a Kvicha Kvaratskhelia corner thumped the base of the far post.

    They went closer in scoring when in-form striker, Giacomo Raspadori rolled across the six-yard box for Giovanni Di Lorenzo, but the tap-in was intercepted.

     Napoli thought they had finally scored when they had the ball in the net on 30 minutes when Di Lorenzo nodded down a Mario Rui cross for Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa to head in from point-blank range. 

    The goal was, however, chalked off following a VAR on-field review for Di Lorenzo’s push on Jerome Roussillon.

    Napoli were also unlucky as  Politano’s strike accidentally deflected off target by Raspadori.

     However, luck was on his side soon after, as they finally scored. Mario Rui’s cross from the left was deflected by Josip Juranovic and bounced into the net off Politano’s face from close range to give the hosts the lead.

    The visitors almost scored with the last lick of the half when Juranovic’s free-kick split through the defensive wall and struck the base of the far post with Meret beaten.

    After the restart, Napoli continued their flurry of attacks to put the game to bed, as Kvaratskhelia dribbled through a crowd only for the Zielinski shot to be charged down.

    Their quest for the second left them wide open to the counter-attack, and were punished when David Fofana sprinted away. He set up Becker for a curler palmed away with one hand by Meret, then being ready to turn in the rebound for the equaliser.

    Napoli continued the attack in search of a winner, but Union Berlin remained dangerous on the counter.

    It became a wide-open affair in stoppages, but none of them could get a winner.

    Written by Oladipupo Mojeed

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