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Gomez hauls nervy Bayern to Napoli victory

FC Bayern München 3-2 SSC Napoli
Mario Gomez's hat-trick took Bayern to the verge of the last 16, but the hosts endured a nervous finale in a game both sides ended with ten men.

Gomez hauls nervy Bayern to Napoli victory
Gomez hauls nervy Bayern to Napoli victory ©UEFA.com

Mario Gomez's first-half hat-trick put FC Bayern München within touching distance of the UEFA Champions League knockout phase, though the German hosts endured a real scare as SSC Napoli pulled it back to 3-2.

The Bundesliga leaders made light work of the visitors in a dominant opening period, with Gomez making it 13 goals in his last ten appearances in the competition. Two headers from Federico Fernández threatened to turn the tie as both sides were reduced to ten men in the second half, but Bayern held on to pull three points clear at the top of Group A.

Jupp Heynckes' side were greeted by a smart choreography depicting "The way home" to this year's final at the Fußball Arena München, but the considerable visiting contingent made themselves heard early on. Ezequiel Lavezzi stirred them up with two probing runs down the right, also dragging wide a shot from the left.

The Napoli fans fell silent when Gomez resumed normal duty with the opening goal on 17 minutes. Bastian Schweinsteiger threaded through to the Germany striker, who turned his marker superbly before slamming past Morgan de Sanctis. It only took another six minutes for Gomez to double his and Bayern's tally, peeling away and cushioning Toni Kroos' lofted diagonal pass into the net.

Gomez had already flicked just wide by the time he completed his treble three minutes before the interval, turning in from close range when Kroos' effort was spilled. Napoli restored some hope at the end of the half as Fernández headed in Marek Hamšík's free-kick, but it was going to take something special to reignite the contest after the restart.

A slight improvement was forthcoming, but even when Bayern lost their midfield director Schweinsteiger to a suspected broken collarbone, the hosts intelligently maintained possession. Napoli were limited to the occasional strike from distance, and their fate looked sealed when Juan Zúñiga received two quick yellow cards with 20 minutes remaining.

Holger Badstuber's dismissal seven minutes later offered Walter Mazzarri's men a chance, and they almost grasped it as Fernández headed in a second, Bayern protected their lead through the nervy final stages which concluded when, with De Sanctis up for a corner, Gomez almost added a fourth from the halfway line; the scrambling goalkeeper cleared by the post.

Heynckes' side can seal progress at home to eliminated Villarreal CF on 22 November, when third-placed Napoli host Manchester City FC.