NAPOLI 2, MANCHESTER CITY 1
Over-cautious Manchester City’s progress in the Champions League campaign may end sooner than they hoped after two goals by Napoli dangerman Edinson Cavani condemned them to defeat it Italy,
The loss leaves City, who were playing in the shadow of Vesuvius, with a mountain to climb – a point behind Napoli in the Champions League Group A, and needing to beat Bayern Munich at the Etihad Stadium in their final group game while hoping that Villarreal can get something from the Italians in their final game in Spain.
Micah Richards, who had been praised by his manager for his recent performances, was missing from the City side as Roberto Mancini opted for his regular Champions League full backs Aleksandar Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta.
The disruption to the defence may have cost City as they sat back and allowed an attacking Napoli side to take an early lead.
Cavani’s header was cancelled out by Mario Balotelli’s tap-in following a Silva shot which was parried to him but the Uruguayan striker restored the lead for the home side shortly after half time with a deft touch after Zabaleta had been beaten by Andrea Dossena. It was his third goal across both of Napoli’s Champions League games against City.
City were saved from falling further behind by Joe Hart’s excellent save from Ezequiel Lavezzi after Vincent Kompany had slipped while Marek Hamsik hit the post after getting away from Kolarov.
Christian Maggio was blocked by Hart as he shaped up for a shot while Kolarov also executed a cynical challenge to stop Lavezzi from breaking clear towards the end of the game.
Sergio Aguero, whose father in-law Diego Maradona graced Napoli’s Stadio San Paolo in the late 80s and won two Scudetto’s, came off the bench to great effect as City tried to grab an equaliser late in the game but it was not to be.