SSC Napoli have their UEFA Champions League fate in their own hands after beating Manchester City FC 2-1 to go second in Group A.
Edinson Cavani crowned a wonderful performance with goals either side of Mario Balotelli's first-half equaliser, to move Walter Mazzarri's men a point clear of their visitors. They will travel to Villarreal CF in a fortnight knowing a round of 16 place is theirs provided they match whatever City manage at home to section winners FC Bayern München.
Roberto Mancini's side had taken the game to their hosts from the whistle, with Yaya Touré firing over and Balotelli curling just wide from the edge of the area. Yet after sucking up the early pressure, Napoli began to bare their teeth.
The impressive Ezequiel Lavezzi raced the length of the field to receive Cavani's return and tee up Marek Hamšík, whose header was saved. Cavani and Lavezzi combined well throughout, and almost scored spectacularly when the latter met Cavani's flick first time. His fierce 25-metre shot flew just wide.
The momentum was with the hosts and after Joe Hart had tipped Gökhan Inler's shot over, Napoli took the lead as Cavani stole in at the near post to head in through a crowd of players. He might have scored again moments later, racing on to Hamšík's through ball only to find the side netting.
City gradually imposed themselves, through the industry of James Milner, the power of Touré and the prompting of David Silva. Silva helped conjure the equaliser, as his low shot was parried by Morgan De Sanctis, and Balotelli helped himself to the rebound.
Silenced descended, but not for long; Napoli started the second half with renewed vigour. Lavezzi was again involved in their goal, feeding Andrea Dossena, whose left-wing cross was converted by Cavani.
The match was keenly poised. City, desperate to salvage the draw that would preserve their two-point lead over their opponents, piled forward in search of another equaliser; Napoli looked to kill the tie on the break. They may have done just that when Hamšík brought down Cavani's sublime crossfield pass, beat Aleksandar Kolarov and shot against a post.
City dominated the final stages, forcing De Sanctis into another fantastic save from Balotelli, who subsequently headed over after Silva and Samir Nasri had prised the home defence open. In the last throes Sergio Agüero was thwarted by the excellent De Sanctis after dancing through; saves that leave Napoli in pole position to join Bayern.
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