Napoli conquer Benfica 2-1 to top Champions League group

Benfica, Dec 7 (IANS) Dries Mertens created a goal and scored the other as Italian football club Napoli conquered Portugal’s Benfica 2-1 to win their Champions League group.

Napoli needed at least a point to be sure of qualification in this final Champions League group game against the joint leaders, both sitting one point above Turkey’s Besiktas.

It was goalless at the break here on Tuesday. After the restart Gabbiadini winger Jose Callejon sprung the offside trap on a Dries Mertens flick and as the goalkeeper came rushing forward, delicately chipped him into an empty net to put Napoli 1-0 up.

It was his first Champions League goal of the season and the Mertens assist arrived within three minutes of coming off the bench.

Mertens really did allow Napoli to step up a gear and scored a wonderful second goal, his jinking run from the edge of the box past a tackle to slop the right-foot finish into the near bottom corner.

But the contest wasn’t over, as Napoli defender Raul Albiol was caught napping at the back and allowed Raul Jimenez a clear run at goal to pull one back for Benfica.

Napoli won their Champions League group for the first time.

–IANS

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