Napoli Capture Crucial Europa League Win at Real Sociedad

Napoli captured three key points at the Anouela Stadium in San Sebastian as they toppled Real Sociedad with a lone goal from Matteo Politano – whose audacious long-range shot was deflected by the Spanish into their own net.

Gennaro Gattuso and his boys needed a win after their dreadful Europa League start from one week ago – which saw them losing at home to AZ Alkmaar. Comparing to his first outing, he lined up Stanislav Lobotka and Matteo Politano alongside Lorenzo Insigne to support center-forward Andrea Petagna. David Ospina was preferred to Alex Meret between the posts.

The San Sebastian outlet were a solid side with much skill and a veteran star – David Silva – shining among their ranks. They did what they were expected to do, resorting to ball possession which peaked at 64% at some point but at the end of the day failed to convert their predominance into scoring chances. When they did manage to do so, they found a monumental Kalidou Koulibaly on their way.

Napoli started well, coming close to break the balance early in the game with Lorenzo Insigne – whose right-foot curl missed the goal target by a few inches – and then with Mario Rui, who also couldn’t find the back of the net from an Andrea Petagna service.

But then Gattuso had to face the injury of captain Insigne, who was forced to leave the pitch due to a suspected muscular sprain after just 22 minutes. He was replaced by Hirving Lozano who would put together an impressive performance.

The rest of the first half saw the home side controlling the ball and pushing the Partenopei back into their own half but they rarely came to threaten David Ospina. Real Sociedad’s clearest chance came from Mikel Merino but the Spain international sent his header crashing above the bar.

The second period seemed to follow the same pattern with the San Sebastian side keeping the ball and maintaining the match momentum low but Napoli found the lead out nowhere when Matteo Politano attempted a conclusion from out of the box and found Modibo Sagnan’s unlucky deflection into his own goal.

Napoli’s goal-scorer soon left the pitch for Giovanni Di Lorenzo as Gattuso covered himself up. However, Dries Mertens and Victor Osimhen also made their entrance to boost the Partenopei‘s offensive production.

In the 65th minute, Real Sociedad produced their most dangerous chance as David Silva served Portu a golden assist, but David Ospina’s save from the Spanish’s number 7 was extraordinary and kept Napoli ahead. Twelve minutes later, a fast break orchestrated by Silva and Mikel Oyarzabal showed how the Basques could turn the tables in no time but the 23-year-old’s conclusion ended far from the target.

Napoli could have scored the second in the 85th minute but Mario Rui happened to touch the ball twice from a free kick as he whipped the ball into the box and found Osimhen’s header conversion. The referee disallowed the goal and canceled the Portuguese’s feat as well as the Nigerian’s finisher.

Victor Osimhen received his marching orders into added time but Napoli managed to resist even with one man less and launched themselves in pursuit of AZ Alkmaar, who pulverized Rijeka 4-1 in the other match of Group F.



October 29, 2020 – Europa League 2020-21 Group Stage

SCORER: 55′ Politano

REAL SOCIEDAD (4-3-3): Remiro; Gorosabel (79′ Barrenetxea), Aritz, Le Normand, Monreal; Guevara, Merino (79′ Zubimendi), Silva; Portu (67′ Bautista), Isak (67′ Willian Josè), Oyarzabal (88′ st Guridi) (Moya, Aihen, Sagnan, Arambarri, Januzaj, Merquelanz, Lopez) Coach: Alguacil
NAPOLI (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Hysaj, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Demme (89′ Fabian Ruiz), Bakayoko; Politano (61′ Di Lorenzo), Lobotka (61′ Mertens), Insigne (22′ Lozano); Petagna (61′ Osimhen) (Meret, Contini, Ghoulam, Rrhamani, Manolas, Elmas, Zielinski) Coach: Gattuso

REFEREE: Pawson (England)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Le Normand (R), Lozano (N); Red Card: Osimhen (N); Extra Time: First Half 2′, Second Half 4′