Napoli 2 – 4 Manchester City | Player Ratings & Match Reaction

Napoli came out flying and dominated possession in opening twenty minutes while pressing high on Manchester’s defense and playing the Sarrisimo football that fans are accustomed to seeing. As a result, this mounted pressure on their highline which often bottled City up in their own half. However, Napoli were hit with some bad luck as Ghoulam’s injury was the turning point of the match. Momentum started to swing in Manchester’s direction. City finished as the stronger side and created more offensive chances late in the first half, eventually equalizing from a header by Otamendi. Manchester City continued where they left off and opened scoring in the second half off a corner kick that found the head of defender John Stones that went bar down to make 2-1. Moments later, Albiol drew a penalty and Jorginho tied it 2-2 but bad defensive breakdown by Napoli that led to Aguero scoring to make it 3-2 shortly after. Sterling further dented the hopes of a Napoli equalizer as he made it 4-2 during injury time. It is highly unlikely that the Partenopei will advance onto the next round but Sarri can now move forward and focus on winning that scudetto which has starved the city of Naples for many years.

Player Ratings:

Reina (5.5)- made some key saves in first half and had no chance on first goal. However, could have done better to save the second and third. Not his best performance.

Hysaj (5) – Failed to defend ball in the air from Otamendi equalizer and often caught off guard.

Albiol (7.5)- Solid defensively and saved a goal through a slide tackle that he blocked in the box early in second half. Drew a penalty shot. Silently got the job done the majority of the time.

Koulibaly (7) – Solid in the air keeping Aguero quiet and isolated throughout the first half. Committed some aggressive fouls with minimal mistakes.

Ghoulam (5.5) – Switched play well at times and set up the attack on left flank. Called for a sub in 28’ with thigh injury

Allan (6.5) Napoli’s engine in the midfield helping Napoli’s offensive build up but made some defensive mistakes and was subbed off for Marko Rog on 75’.

Jorginho (7)- Kept intensity and maintained key possession. Scored a crucial penalty in the second half that tied the game.

Hamsik (6.5) – Had many shots on goal, creating link up plays with Jorginho; getting in between mid and defense. Created many attacking through balls but wasn’t as effective in the second half although he had a much better performance than recent games.

Callejon (6)- Pressed Man city back line but seemed off tune and out of it. Blew a point blank chance which could have given Napoli the lead.

Mertens (7) – few chances on net, exploiting Man City backline. Beautiful one-two first touch to set up Insigne’s stunning goal.

Insigne (7.5) – beautiful finish to open up the scoring in the 21st minute. Looked always eager to attack as he created another scoring chance cutting left at the top of the box and striking the cross bar in second half.


Maggio (6)- The veteran 35 year old stood his ground after replacing Ghoulam but was not involved too much in the play.

Rog- (n/a) Made some nice passes linking up with attacking 3 but did not see enough action.

Ounas- (n/a)


    • How? Realistically speaking, we need our starting 11 to guarantee results. In this game, I know it’s gone once Ghoulam was injured to be replaced by 35 years old Maggio. So with Ghoulam and also Shakhtar will be extra motivated against us, it is one tough match. No guarantee of City beating Shakhtar now that City is guarantee CL place, they might opt to play their bench.

  1. I was impressed with our 2 matches vs Man City. They are arguably the best team in the world right now and for stretches of both matches we dominated them. In the end though, they proved themselves the better team. It’s a shame that we’ve jeopardized our champions league future because of that match in the Ukraine. I’d love to see us against some of Europe’s other heavyweights. Going to the Europa League could be interesting but of course I fear the effects playing on Thursdays would have on our league performances.

    • Ghoulam injury is brutal. But every team has injuries. Among the top 5 teams us and Lazio have the least depth.

      We needed to keep Strinic even if he wanted to go. Mario Rui is damaged goods. Just like Tonelli. Sarri says he is not ready. Why then did we buy him? Our right is a joke too. Maggio playing against a world class team! And in attack we effectively only have a young unproven Ounas who is a great prospect but needs time.

      Also Ghoulam has not even renewed yet. So really our transfer market was a disaster and I want those who defended ADL come now and agree how his stinginess again is undermining Sarri’s work (similar to buying Grassi and Regini when we needed depth, which is why also Higuain left that season).

  2. I am so tired of all these talk from players and from Sarri as after the game that we played well in 1st half ( or 2nd half ), we dominate/control the game, we are unlucky, deserved to draw / win etc.. Football is a 90 min game. The final score after 90mins is what matters. In both legs, we did not deserve to win because the final score line says so.

    Moving forward, we need to

    1) Increase our depth – ( Tough as ADL is such a miser )

    2) Rotate – About time that Sarri need to trust our bench players. They are all rusty because they hardly play. Our preferred starting 11 cannot start every game.

    3) Fix our defense on set piece

  3. We have to work on defence and we have to work on mentality. When we are losing in Serie A, we are able overcome it and win the game. In CL our players haven’t self confidence. First half hour was great, then after Ghoulam injury and conceded goal, players self confidence and concentration was at 0. Sadest about this is that we could still win the game. Callejon normally score goal easily from that position. And referee saw offside which wasn’t exist!

    Now club has to decide if we want to fight for CL qualification to the end or what. Manchester City will play against Sachtar before their Manchester derby, so there is a possibility that they will rest and Sachtar will get some points. IMO we should avoid Europe league, for me it is worthless competition and it would be useless spend energy there.

    I hope Sarri will rest Mertens against Chievo, he can’t play every match. He wasn’t 100% yesterday and he is risking serious injury if he won’t rest.

    At winter transfer window number one priority has to be striker, then RB/LB – especially if Ghoulam injury will be confirmed and then winger or Sarri has to give space to Ounas and Giak

    • I agree we need to rotate against teams like Benevento but we don’t have the bench to have meaningful impact when rotating against a team like yesterday.

      Sadly the positions we said from the start of the season that we lack depth, will come and hurt us now. Attack and wingbacks.

      Not sure how good or fit Rui is but we will certainly have many games with Maggio starting and Hysaj playing out of position.

      Not sure resting Mertens makes sense. Who should play center forward? Without him the team can’t score. Remember last year the period when Milik got injured or this year against Shakhtar?

  4. Dating back to Rafa, this team has not been able to defend set pieces. It is beyond frustrating to watch opposing teams easily nod or tap in uncontested corners and FK’s. They have the size defensively and a somewhat aggressive GK, so what is the problem!? For whatever unknown reason they can’t seem figure it out, so start putting some of the small guys on the posts and sacrifice some of the counter!!! Its ridiculous, I personally hold my breath on all set pieces in our final 3rd.

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