Full-time: Napoli 3-1 Swansea (agg: 3-1)
A tremendous game and impressive Swansea performance end with a two-goal victory for Napoli but that doesn’t reflect how closely contested this match was. Swansea exit the Europa League but with their heads held high. They will regret a couple of missed chances, especially a botched header by Bony, and an unfortunate ricochet that was ruthlessly exploited by Higuain to give Napoli a second goal, which forced Swansea to leave themselves exposed as they chased an equaliser. A fun night’s entertainment and a step forward for Swansea but not, alas, progression in the tournament.
GOAL! Napoli 3-1 Swansea (Inler 90+3)
Inler slots the ball under Vorm as Napoli expertly take advantage of Swansea’s gungho attacking, killing off the tie on the counter.
90 + 1 min: As the ball bounces chaotically around the Napoli box, Bony attempts a spectacular volley ... but he fails to make a proper connection and it’s an easy save for Reina.
Added time: At least three more mintues ....
90 min: Fabulous end to the match as Swansea rage forward in search of an equaliser and Napoli defend magnificently and try to striker on the counter: they even had a 2-v-1 attack just now but Davies did brilliantly to hurl himself in front of the ball as Higuain seemed certain to score!
88 min: What a save! A superb stop by Reina as he acrobatically tips a Tiendali header over the bar as Swansea’s pressure intensifies!
87 min: Swansea are streaming forward .... the ball comes to Dyer at the right corner of the box ... instead of shooting he loops the ball towards Bony ... but Reina charges off his line to punch clear.
85 min: Napoli change: Benitez moves to shore up, withdrawing Callejon and introducing another centreback, Britos.
84 min: Mertens spanks a vicious ball across the face of goal but no one is there to poke home.
82 min: Swansea change: Pozuelo on, De Guzman off. He can conjure, Pozuelo, and Swansea need some magic.
GOAL! Napoli 2-1 Swansea (Higuian 78)
One unlucky bounce and Swansea’s dreams are shattered! Chico cut out a Napoli corss but it rebounded off Davies and into the path of Higuain, who spun and shot instantaneously to beat Vorm from eight yards! Now Swansea neat to get back on the front foot pronto ...
76 min: Napoli have blown away Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund in this stadium this season but they are huffing and puffing here as Swansea still look comfortable. A famous triumph draws ever closer ...
73 min: Swansea are startign to sit quite deep now and may regret ceding so much initiative. On the other hand, coiling like that may give them even greater scope to spring forward on the counter. It’s an engrossing game...
70 min: Swansea subsstitution: Emnes off, Taylor on.
68 min: Insigne’s second-half deterioration has not escaped the attention of Benitez, who thus replaces him with Mertens.
67 min: A swift counter-attack by Swansea culminates with Bony being given a wonderful chance to increase Swansea’s lead ... but, after a fine pass by Emnes and a cute cross by Hernandez, the striker heads straight at Reina from close range! That could have been the killer blow.
65 min: Insigne has been quieter in this half than in the first but he has suddenly burst back to life, twisting between Tiendali and Dyer before letting fly from 15 yards. Vorm parries it behind for a corner.
63 min: “Any idea why Napoli are wearing an all yellow kit and not their usual beautiful baby blue strip?” wonders Neil Waters. Apparently it’s because they believe their yellow kit is lucky; however, I suspect it’s more to do with some marketing wheeze. Meanwhile, Hernandez, who’s havin a blinder, wriggles between two players and opens fire, his shot deflecting out for a corner.
62 min: Swansea substitution: Routledge off, Dyer on. No let up in Swansea’s attackign intent, then.
59 min: Swansea roar for a penalty after Tiendali goes down in the box. The ref seems to consider it before waving play on... and he was right as the replay shows that Tiendali threw himself to the ground as Ghoulam stuck out a leg to intercept. Monk is outraged on the sidelines but if he had seen the incident clearly he would be ashamed of his player.
56 min: A rare inaccurate pass by Hernandez gives Napoli a chance to counter. Williams has to scurry across to dispossesses Callejon and allow Swansea to regroup.
53 min: After the corner is cleared Du Guzmans sends a swirling snapshot into Reina’s chest. The keeper distributes rapidly and Chico, kills the break by handling the ball as Higuain’s tried to dance past him. Such careless use of the arm usually sends Chico tumbling to the floor clutching his face in agony, but this time he just shrugs and accepts a yellow card.
52 min: Nice move: Bony ... Emnes ... Nightflight to Venus? No, out wide to Tiendali, who wins a corner.
50 min: Napoli looking short of ideas at the moment, as Swansea keep them at bay with ease and, indeed, remain primed to strike on the counter. But De Guzman rather got carried away just now as he tried to shoot from nearly 30 yards when he had team-mates sweeping forward in support. Reina collects comfortably.
47 min: Canas booked for tripping Callejon after letting the ball get away from him.
46 min: Hamsik is warming up for Napoli but neither side made any changes during the break so the same 22 begin the second half, Albiol and Henrique presumably having failed to persuade Benitez to take them off at half-time to spare them another battering by Bony.
“You’re right about the Swans deserving to be ahead!” yelps Andrew Clarkwest. “The fans in the stadium have been singing ’We’re going to win 1-1!’.”
Half-time: Napoli 1-1 Swansea
Other than dodgy defend for Napoli’s goal and a few minutes thereafter, that was a highly impressive showing by Swansea. They have played with great compsoure, strength and enterprise and fully deserve to be ahead in the tie at present. They will surely have to withstand presure in the second half, with Insigne likely to be in the thick of it, but they also look capable of adding to their one goal, with Bony, in particular, in excellent form.
44 min: Valiant defending by Swansea s they crowd out Higuain as the Argentine tried toswivel and shoot from 15 yards.
41 min: Not so hot from Bony: a snapshot from 20 yards swerves way wide.
39 min: Bony is so much more than brawn: he has been proving that with a deft display of passing tonight and he has just added a foxy shimmy top his repertoire, leaving Henrique on his hide as he dazzled his way into the box and swiped a decent shot at goal. Reina saved.
36 min: Reina has to scamper out of his box to whack the ball clear before Routledge can collect another clever pass from Bony, who is having one of those days where he looks like exactly the sort of striker that Chelsea, for instance, would love to have.
32 min: Another cunning flick by the dynamic Bony presents Hernandez with a chance to let fly from 25 yards. His low effort is held by Reina.
GOAL! Napoli 1 -1 Swansea (De Guzman 29)
That’s how to shut up the home fans! A superb flicked pass by Bony sent De Guzman through and he produced an excellent first-time finish with his left foot before being mobbed by overjoyed Swans!
25 min: Insigne, revelling between the lines like a reckless zoo-keeper, fires off another shot, this time fizzing it wide from 20 yards.
23 min: Davies commits the unpardonable sin of failing to beat the first man with his corner. However, Swansea soon regain possession and Routledge flips in a cross with the outside of his boot, as he tends to do more often than any other winger in Europe. Bony tries something even more snazzy when a bread-and-butter shot might have beaten Reina, so the chance evaporates.
22 min: Decent work by Emnes to win a corner. A chance for Swansea to plunder that precious away goal?
19 min: Oh, oh. Swansea are in danger of sinking here. Their defence has suddenly got the wobbles and Napoli are moving in for the kill. After slicing through the visitors, however, Higuain repreives them by guiding a shot badly wide from 15 yards. “Swansea (at least in Europe) seem to be that rarest of things, an actual team - consisting of largely unheralded players guided by an astute manager - that is greater than the sum of its parts. Do you think it will ever catch on?” wonders Simon McMahon. It already is catching on, hence the increasing trend among PRemier League clubs and manager’s to preach about philosophies. It’s no coincidence that two of the highest-achieving Premier League manager so far this season - Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez - are former Swansea bosses.
GOAL! Napoli 1-0 Swansea (Insigne 16)
He’s been the best player on the pitch so far and he took his chance deliciously - chipping the ball over Vorm from outside the box - but Garry Monk will be appalled at how he got the chance: all of the Swans pushed out to play offside except for Tiendalli, whose dawdling played Insigne on and allowed him to apply his exquisite finish. One moment’s carelessness undoes the visitors’ nifty start. Still, one goal will put Swansea through so there’s plenty left in this game.
15 min: What a miss! After more artful dodging by Insigne, Higuain receives the ball at the left-hand side of the box with plenty of time and space to size up a shot .... but, to the dismay of himself and the fans, he leans back and skies the ball.
14 min: This is a very accomplished performance so far by Swansea. They have enjoyed the majority of possession and, more importantly, frequently looked likely to create bother with it. Napoli have looked intrepid too, especially Insigne. It’s a gripping game.
11 min: Lovely move by Swansea and so nearly a goal! After intricate interplay Routledge slipped a dainty ball through to Emnes, who had made a canny run from deep. The Dutchman clipped the ball over the out-rushing keeper but not with enough power for it to reach the net before the pesky Albiol could welly it away!
8 min: It’s bright stuff from Swansea so far - and they nearly forge a goal-scoring chance when Routledge flights a brazen ball from deep towards Bony. Albiol stretches out a leg to thwart Bony just in time.
5 min: Higuain aims as lovely ball behind Chico for Pandev to chase. It seems the striker will get to it first and thus be through on goal, but Chico recovers quickly to fend off the danger.
3 min: One of the most impressive features of Swansea’s rise in recent years has been their ability to see something in journeymen that was apparent to few others and then cultivate it. Britton and Wayne Routledge are two obvious examples of players who seemed to be going nowhere in particular until Swansea helped bring the best out of them. Will they perform similar work with their curious January signings, Marvin Emnes and David Ngog? The former starts here and the latter is on the bench. So far the best play, however, has come from Insigne, who has had two early pops at goal after decent build-up work.
1 min: Swansea get the game going. Amid intense whistling from the locals, they calmly stroke the ball around, keeping possession with familiar aplomb.
Could it be Swansea who uphold the Premier league’s reputation on the continent? With the division’s top dogs neutered by fancy foreigners in recent weeks, a Welsh win in Napoli would surely get everyone’s danger back up.
Napoli: Reina, Maggio, Albiol, Henrique, Ghoulam, Inler,
Behrami, Callejon, Pandev, Insigne, Higuain.
Subs: Colombo, Reveillere, Britos, Mertens, Hamsik, Dzemaili, Zapata.
Swansea: Vorm, Tiendalli, Williams, Chico, Ben Davies, Canas, de Guzman, Routledge, Emnes, Hernandez, Bony.
Subs: Tremmel, Amat, Taylor, Dyer, Rangel, Pozuelo, Ngog.
Referee: Ovidiu Alin Hategan (Romania)