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Dortmund down Napoli to keep chances alive

Borussia Dortmund 3-1 SSC Napoli
Last term's runners-up won an exhilarating Group F game, Marco Reus's penalty added to by Jakub Błaszczykowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Dortmund down Napoli to keep chances alive
Dortmund down Napoli to keep chances alive ©UEFA.com

Borussia Dortmund ensured their UEFA Champions League fate remains in their own hands with a crucial victory at home to SSC Napoli.

Last season's finalists responded to their recent rocky patch with an absorbing display, but despite taking a two-goal lead through Marco Reus's early penalty and Jakub Błaszczykowski's second-half finish, seemed destined for a nervy finish after Lorenzo Insigne pulled one back for the Italian visitors. However, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's first goal at this level made sure of the three points and, more importantly, put Dortmund second in Group F heading into the final round of fixtures.

Knowing only a win would realistically keep them in the competition, Dortmund could hardly have wished for a better start as Federico Fernández's tug on Robert Lewandowski earned them a penalty just ten minutes in. Reus kept his cool to send Pepe Reina the wrong way and give his side the advantage, but with a one-goal margin unlikely to be enough in the head-to-head ranking, the hosts pushed for more.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan looked eager and soon threaded in Lewandowski, only for the Poland forward to blaze off target. Reus then had a dipping free-kick palmed around the post by Reina, before Mkhitaryan and Lewandowski were each denied by the goalkeeper after exploiting gaps in the Napoli defence.

Yet as dangerous as Dortmund appeared on the offensive, their injury-hit back line was very nearly breached on the counterattack between times, most notably when José Callejón dropped the shoulder on makeshift centre-back Sven Bender and struck a post. Dortmund were exposed again when Pablo Armero's long-range drive forced a flying save from Roman Weidenfeller towards half-time.

The interval allowed the Bundesliga team to regain their composure and they were back on the front foot after the restart. Reus and Lewandowski should both have done better after being teed up by the tireless Błaszczykowski, whose unselfishness was rewarded on the hour. Dortmund swept forward on the counterattack and Reus squared for the Poland captain to slot through the legs of Reina.

The danger for Dortmund was far from over, however, as Gonzalo Higuaín had shown when he drew a sprawling stop from Weidenfeller moments earlier. Indeed, BVB's profligacy looked like it might be punished when Insigne stole in to reduce the arrears, but it was another substitute, Aubameyang, who chipped over Reina with 12 minutes remaining to ensure the Schwarzgelben held on for their 50th European Cup win and one of the more important.