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Napoli pull the plug on Swansea

Published: Thursday 27 February 2014, 21.01CET
SSC Napoli 3-1 Swansea City AFC (agg: 3-1)
Strikes from Gonzalo Higuaín and Gökhan Inler broke Welsh hearts late on, with FC Porto up next for Rafael Benítez's side.
by Ben Gladwell
from Stadio San Paolo
Published: Thursday 27 February 2014, 21.01CET

Napoli pull the plug on Swansea

SSC Napoli 3-1 Swansea City AFC (agg: 3-1)
Strikes from Gonzalo Higuaín and Gökhan Inler broke Welsh hearts late on, with FC Porto up next for Rafael Benítez's side.

SSC Napoli reached the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League for the first time thanks to a dramatic 3-1 round of 32 second-leg victory over Swansea City AFC in Naples.

Lorenzo Insigne gave the hosts the lead, but Swansea were good value for their Jonathan De Guzmán equaliser. It looked like they were going to go through on away goals, and without winning any of their last six European matches, until Gonzalo Higuaín and Gökhan Inler scored late on to maintain Napoli's 100% home record in Europe this season.

Not afraid to preserve possession and take the game to Napoli, Swansea made themselves feel at home before an incisive Napoli struck with their first opportunity, Higuaín flicking a header over the top for Insigne who lobbed Michel Vorm.

Raúl Albiol had earlier come to Napoli's rescue, clearing Marvin Emnes's effort off the line, and Swansea still posed the greater threat, making the one-goal lead appear particularly precarious. So it proved when Wilfried Bony threaded a ball through to De Guzmán, whose composed left-foot finish squirmed under the left arm of Pepe Reina, powerless to prevent the away goal.

Swansea continued to carve out chances, Pablo Hernández firing wide and Bony finding only Reina, who was also quick off his line to clear ahead of Wayne Routledge as the Premier League team asked all the questions.

De Guzmán fizzed in an attempt from the right wing which tested Reina while Hernández was allowed the run of the field before his strike was deflected behind. There were still no answers from Napoli.

The Serie A outfit inevitably committed men forward and they were almost caught out at the back when Bony placed his header too close to Reina. It was a let-off for the hosts, who took full advantage when Dries Mertens's cross was not cleared by the Swansea rearguard and the ball fell for Higuaín to lash in their second.

Reina tipped Dwight Tiendalli's header over in a dramatic finale before Higuaín spurned the opportunity to ease the home fans' nerves on the counterattack. Inler obliged with practically the last kick of the match, placing the ball past Vorm from Marek Hamšík's pass to set up a last-16 tie with FC Porto.

Last updated: 07/10/14 2.46CET

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