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UEFA Champions League

  • 7 December 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • Camp El Madrigal, Villarreal
  • Referee: S. Moen
  • • Attendance: 15350
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Villarreal 0-2 Napoli: Inler and Hamsik the heroes as Italians progress to the knockout stages ahead of Manchester City

Villarreal 0-2 Napoli: Inler and Hamsik the heroes as Italians progress to the knockout stages ahead of Manchester City

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Walter Mazzarri's men battled hard to earn the result they needed in Spain, as the two midfielders grabbed the goals to keep them in Europe's elite football competition

Second-half strikes from Gokhan Inler and Marek Hamsik secured a 2-0 victory for Napoli against Villarreal at El Madrigal, putting the Italian club into the Champions League last 16.

The Swiss midfielder's unstoppable shot from long range with 25 minutes to play gave Napoli the lead before Hamsik doubled their advantage to give the visitors the win they needed to progress from Group A.

The Serie A side end the group campaign a point ahead of Manchester City who are knocked out of the competition and into the Europa League, despite victory against Group A winners Bayern Munich.

Villarreal finish pointless, their worst ever Champions League campaign as their unbeaten home record versus Italian opposition came to an end.

The visitors made a bright start and missed a glorious opportunity to take the lead in the fifth minute. Ezequiel Lavezzi's curling cross found Juan Zuniga in plenty of space yet the Colombian hit the ball straight at Diego Lopez from six yards out.

Thirty seconds later the home team broke at pace with Marco Ruben collecting the ball just outside the Napoli penalty area before turning and unleashing a powerful low effort at goal which forced a super save from Morgan De Sanctis.

Napoli continued to look the livelier of the two sides yet had to wait until the 40th minute for another notable opportunity at goal. The impressive Hamsik picked the ball up 30 metres from goal before driving forward and smashing a ferocious effort which narrowly missed the top corner as the two teams headed into the interval all square.

The hosts made were straight out of the traps in the second period and nearly took the lead in the 46th minute. Hernan Perez picked the ball up just outside the box before drilling a low effort at goal, forcing a smart save from De Sanctis.

However, it was the visitors who were to grab the all important opening goal and what a strike it was. In the 65th minute, Inler picked up a loose ball 25 metres from goal before drilling an unstoppable effort into the far corner, leaving Diego Lopez rooted to the spot.

The Italian club secured the three points in the 76th minute after some slack Villarreal defending from a corner. Lavezzi's ball into the box evaded every yellow shirt and fell to the feet of Hamsik who bundled it home from two yards out.

Napoli will find out their last 16 fate on December 16 when the draw is made. The Italian club return to domestic action when they travel to Novara on Sunday while Villarreal entertain Real Sociedad in La Liga on the same day.
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