Dnipro deny dominant Napoli
Thursday, May 7, 2015
SSC Napoli 1-1 FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
Substitute Yevhen Seleznyov scored with his first touch to level after David López had headed Rafael Benítez's side in front.
Article top media content
• David López scores first-ever Napoli goal on 50 minutes
• Substitute Yevhen Seleznyov levels with first touch nine minutes from time
• Partenopei hit woodwork for tenth time in this season's competition
• Rafael Benítez's side still unbeaten in 13 European home matches
• Second leg at NSK Olimpiyskyi next Thursday
FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk denied SSC Napoli as they came away with an away goal and a 1-1 draw despite the Italian team's dominance in the UEFA Europa League semi-final opener at the Stadio San Paolo.
David López struck the first goal of the tie on 50 minutes, heading in from Lorenzo Insigne's corner, but Rafael Benítez's side were pegged back when substitute Yevhen Seleznyov produced a close-range finish with his first touch nine minutes from time.
Dnipro's run in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League has been their best attempt in a European competition and last season's Ukrainian Premier League runners-up showed their resilience in the opening stages, their hosts getting plenty of possession but very few opportunities. Insigne came close on ten minutes with a looping 25-metre volley which rattled the outside of the post, but Douglas was the linchpin of Dnipro's defence, marshalling Gonzalo Higuaín and the rest of Napoli's attacking aces.
However, within five minutes of the restart, their hard work was undone as Insigne swung in a corner from the left and Spanish midfielder López beat Dnipro defender Léo Matos to the ball to claim his first-ever Napoli goal and his maiden strike in European football.
Napoli coach Benítez urged his men forward in search of a second goal to take to Ukraine in a week's time but Dnipro goalkeeper Denys Boyko came to the visitors' rescue with four fine saves from Higuaín, including three with his legs, before Myron Markevych's team drew level against the run of play. Artem Fedetskiy sent in a low cross from the right which Roman Bezus missed, allowing fellow replacement Seleznyov to tap in at the back post and secure his side a draw.