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Napoli make their mark in Marseille

Olympique de Marseille 1-2 SSC Napoli
José Callejón and Duván Zapata struck either side of the break to leave Élie Baup's men six points adrift of the three other teams in Group F.

Napoli make their mark in Marseille
Napoli make their mark in Marseille ©UEFA.com

SSC Napoli delivered an excellent display in southern France to move joint top of Group F, José Callejón and Duván Zapata scoring in a 2-1 victory that shunted Olympique de Marseille ever closer to elimination.

Playing with speed and purpose, Rafael Benítez's men took a deserved lead via Callejón before the interval and made light of a spirited response when substitute Zapata curled in on 67 minutes. André Ayew registered late for the hosts, but Napoli held on to go level with Arsenal FC and Borussia Dortmund, with OM yet to pick up a point.

The Mistral wind swept across the Stade Vélodrome turf in the early stages and so too did the visitors, with Dries Mertens brimming with energy on the left. Eager to shine on his first UEFA Champions League start, the Belgium winger won a free-kick inside three minutes and forced Steve Mandanda to bat away the subsequent set piece.

Mertens was at the root of much that Napoli did well, later playing in Pablo Armero to shoot wide, after Marseille had finally announced their presence via Benoît Cheyrou's off-target attempt. Despite that opening, Élie Baup's charges were struggling to move the ball forward, playing with less precision and pace than their opponents.

OM's next chance came from a corner, Souleymane Diawara heading at Pepe Reina, who instantly launched a counterattack. Mertens fed fit-again Gonzalo Higuaín and the Argentina forward, with time to pick his spot, screwed wide. He made up for it three minutes before half-time, however, launching a sublime ball over the top which Callejón clipped inside Rod Fanni and drilled low past Mandanda.

With their qualification hopes slipping away, the Ligue 1 team upped their intensity after the break, and André-Pierre Gignac had a shot blocked after a fine run. Spaces inevitably began appearing at the other end, though, and Gökhan Inler drove wide from distance, before Callejón tested Mandanda from long range after meeting a partially cleared corner.

It was from outside the area that the Partenopei eventually doubled the deficit, in fact, Mertens flicking the ball to his left for Zapata to unleash a delicious strike that dipped under the crossbar. Marseille's attacks kept foundering on the rocks of a solid rearguard, in contrast, until André Ayew crashed a half-volley beyond Reina from 20 metres. As against Arsenal on matchday one, his late goal was little more than window dressing.

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