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UEFA Europa League
March 20, 2014
• Stadio San Paolo, Napoli
Referee: M. Atkinson
• Attendance: 54145
G. Pandev 21'
D. Zapata 90'+
Porto win Aggregate 3 - 2
N. Ghilas 69'
Ricardo Quaresma 76'
Porto will be joined by AZ Alkmaar, Valencia, Juventus, Lyon and Benfica in the Europa League quarter-finals. There are still two games currently in play as FC Basel lead Salzburg while Real Betis and Sevilla is heading into extra-time. Thanks for joining me, Max Bentley, on this terrific evening of Europa League football. Until next time, goodbye.
FT: Napoli 2-2 Porto (2-3 on aggregate). Rafael Benitez's side will be scratching their heads after a pulsating game at the San Paolo. Goran Pandev gave Napoli the ideal start with a delightful first-half finish but the Partenopei could not build on their dominance, spurning a number of glorious chances. And that proved costly as substitute Nabil Ghilas scored the crucial away goal against the run of play before Ricardo Quaresma's fine solo effort sealed the tie. However, there was still time for more drama as Duvan Zapata converted a late equaliser for the hosts. Terrific entertainment in the Europa League as Porto advance to the quarter-finals.
90' + 4'
NAPOLI GO CLOSE! It's almost a dramatic late finale in Naples as Hamsik floats a teasing cross towards the back post which Callejon meets emphatically on the volley. The Spaniard is expecting to see the net bulge but Ricardo races across the goalmouth to produce a superb last-ditch block.
90' + 2'
90' + 2'
ZAPATA MAKES IT 2-2! It's a muted celebration from the Italians as they know that goal has come too late. Callejon is the architect as he sprints down the right and he squares the ball precisely for fellow substitute Zapata to convert from close range.
This game has been played at a terrific tempo throughout the 90 minutes and it shows no sign of relent in the closing stages as Fabiano is called into action to save Fernandez's header.
It's quite astonishing how much confidence that Ghilas goal has instilled in this Porto side and they produce some superb one-touch passing around the Napoli box before the Algerian is denied a second goal by Reina. Can Porto go all the way in this competition?
Despite their comfortable advantage, Luis Castro is up from the bench and barking orders to his Porto players on the touchline. Callejon nearly pulls Napoli level on the night but he lacks conviction with his header and sees his effort comfortably saved by Fabiano.
Napoli are refusing to give up hope of a dramatic comeback however and Hamsik whips in a teasing cross from the right which just evades Henrique in the middle. It seems their 100% European record is coming to an end.
A final desperate change from Napoli as Callejon comes on to replace Mertens. I wonder if Benitez is regretting his chance to rest the Spaniard and Hamsik.
There appears to be no sign of a Napoli fightback here as it is Porto who are pulling the strings in midfield and keeping possession. It has been a quite miraculous turnaround from the Portuguese champions.
Quaresma receives a standing ovation from the travelling Porto supporters as he leaves the field to be replaced by Lica.
Rafa Benitez decides to make a second substitution and Higuain - who missed a golden chance to put Napoli ahead in the tie - is replaced by Duvan Zapata.
There is a deflated atmosphere around the San Paolo now as the home supporters seem to have accepted their European fate. Rafa Benitez's side will certainly be rueing those missed chances - they could have put this game to bed a long time ago.
WHAT A STRIKE FROM QUARESMA! It's a remarkable turnaround from Porto as they all but secure their place in the quarter-finals. Quaresma produces some magic to jink past the challenges of Behrami and Ghoulam and he keeps his composure in front of goal, smashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner. Reina is furious with his defence.
That goal has completely changed the complexion of this game now and it is Porto who suddenly look the more dangerous. Football is a funny old game.
DEFOUR HITS THE POST! That goal has given Porto a newfound confidence and they nearly wrap up the tie as Defour nips in ahead of Fernandez before nudging a right-footed shot against the post. The travelling Porto fans are going bonkers in one corner of the stadium.
That goal has completely changed the mood around the San Paolo and the Napoli supporters are shaking their heads in disbelief. They have had so many chances in this game but they now require two goals to go through.
Yellow CardValon Behrami
GHILAS SILENCES THE SAN PAOLO! It's an inspired substitution from Luis Castro as Ghilas breaks the Napoli offside trap superbly before slotting Fernando's incise through ball under the body of Reina. Porto, somehow, have their away goal.
Napoli decide to make their first change of the game and Pandev comes off to a standing ovation as he is replaced by Hamsik.
Napoli continue to threaten and Danilo produces a superb challenge to deny Higuain converting Pandev's low cross before Mertens' left-footed piledriver goes into the side netting. Can Rafa Benitez's side find the second goal that their pressure merits?
Porto will be hoping for some inspiration from the bench and they make a second substitution as the Algerian winger Nabil Ghilas replaces Silvestre Varela.
We have just 25 minutes remaining at the San Paolo and as things stand, this game will be heading into extra time. That will seem like an eternity for these Porto players at the moment however.
Luis Castro finally decides to make a substitution and Josue is the man introduced as he replaces Carlos Eduardo. Porto desperately need to do something to weather the Napoli storm here.
Napoli continue to crank up the pressure and Fabiano is called into action twice in quick succession, first saving a close-range Pandev header before parrying Insigne's finessed effort. Inler then tries his luck from distance but it is not one of his finer attempts as his shot balloons high over the bar.
HIGUAIN SHOULD SCORE! The Argentine has often proved a saviour for Napoli this season but he misses a golden chance to put his side ahead on aggregate after being played clean through by Fernandez's dinked pass. The former Real Madrid man produces a smart turn to cut inside Reyes but with the goal gaping, he can only fire straight at Fabiano.
SO CLOSE FROM CARLOS EDUARDO! Porto go desperately close to scoring that elusive away goal as Carlos Eduardo rises highest to meet Quaresma's teasing set-piece. However, the 24-year-old's glancing header bounces agonisingly past the post, with Reina puffing his cheeks in relief.
Ricardo, who is usually a right winger, is really struggling to adapt to the left-back role and Mertens is starting to have plenty of joy down the wing. Porto are living dangerously at the moment.
Henrique picks up the first booking of the match after tripping Quaresma. The referee has been rather lenient in this game so far.
GHOULAM GOES CLOSE! The Algerian defender is getting forward at will down the left and he nearly doubles Napoli's lead as he curls a right-footed effort inches over the bar from the edge of the box.
SUPER SAVE FROM FABIANO! The Porto goalkeeper keeps his team in the tie as he produces a marvellous reflex save to deny Insigne who had met Merten's inviting cross at the back post with a firm downward header. Can Napoli find the second goal?
The highly-rated Mangala has looked rather uncertain alongside Reyes today although he comes to his side's rescue on this occasion as he produces a brave header to prevent Fernandez nodding in Behrami's corner. Napoli have started the second half as they ended the first.
Porto are immediately on the back foot at the start of the second half and Reyes produces a crucial clearance to prevent Pandev from doubling his tally. It could soon get worse for the Portuguese champions as Hamsik is warming up on the touchline.
The teams re-emerge from the tunnel for the second half and Napoli get the ball rolling again. There have been no substitutions from either side at the break. Will we see a response from Porto?
HT: Napoli 1-0 Porto (1-1 on aggregate). Goran Pandev's delightful finish gives Napoli a well-deserved lead at the break. Rafa Benitez's side have completed dominated proceedings in the first half, controlling the midfield and isolating Jackson Martinez up front. Porto are yet to seriously test Pepe Reina and they need a desperate tactical re-shuffle in the dressing room if they are to stand any chance of progressing to the quarter-finals. It's finely poised at the San Paolo.
Inler is certainly capable of special goals and he goes close to doubling Napoli's advantage as his speculative drive goes narrowly over Fabiano's crossbar. Reina has hardly been tested in the Napoli net.
Porto are looking particularly vulnerable in wide areas and they survive another scare when Fabiano rushes off his line to claim Mertens' teasing cross from the right. The Porto players are anxious to hear that half-time whistle.
Porto have won away from home only once since Christmas. As it stands, it looks like that statistic will continue. They have been second-best to Napoli in the opening 41 minutes here and Luis Castro will need a tactical re-shuffle at the break.
INSIGNE GOES CLOSE! Danilo's poor header falls straight to Insigne on the left corner of the box and he jinks inside the challenge of the Porto right-back before fizzing a low drive into the side netting. Napoli are in firm control and are getting closer to a second goal.
CHANCE FOR NAPOLI! Higuain produces a spectacular diagonal pass to split open the high Porto defensive line once again. However, Mertens cannot produce the finish to match as his cushioned volley is well saved by Fabiano. Superb vision from the Argentine there.
Napoli have not been beaten at the San Paolo since a defeat to Parma back in November. They have won three and drawn one of the previous four home matches against Portuguese sides.
MARTINEZ GOES CLOSE! The Porto striker will be hoping to impress at the World Cup this summer for Colombia and he goes within inches of grabbing the equaliser as he peels off his marker excellently before his powerful header into the ground flashes narrowly wide of the post. That certainly had Reina scrambling.
Napoli win a free kick right on the edge of the box after Mangala catches Albiol with a late challenge. Insigne steps up to take it and his effort deflects off the wall before Fabiano denies Mertens smartly from the rebound. There's more goals in this game.
This is a better spell from Porto and they are beginning to look more of a threat down the wings now. If they score the next goal here, Napoli will need to score twice more to progress to the quarter-finals.
The fancy tricks have not come off Quaresma so far this evening and he draws an ironic cheer from the home support when his long-range effort slices high over the bar.
Porto look shellshocked after that Pandev strike and the Portuguese side look to take the sting out of the Napoli attack by slowing down the tempo and retaining possession. They really are a side low on confidence at the moment.
That goal has lifted the roof off the San Paolo and the Napoli fans are bouncing, firmly believing that their side can go on to win this match and progress to the quarter-finals. Porto have hardly got going here and they need to get a grip on this game fast.
PANDEV GIVES NAPOLI THE LEAD! The hosts pressure is finally rewarded after Pandev completes a superb counter attacking move. Higuain is the architect as he slips a clever reverse pass into the path of the onrushing Macedonian and he makes no mistake, lifting the ball over the advancing Fabiano. Brilliant finish.
There is a stoppage in play here as Mertens receives treatment on the field. Quaresma is extremely fortunate to escape the first booking of the game because that was a poorly-timed challenge.
Napoli must make sure that they do not overcommit however and Martinez gives a glimpse of Porto's attacking prowess as he teases a dangerous low cross into the box which is well saved by Reina.
ANOTHER CHANCE FOR NAPOLI! Higuain has scored 21 goals in 38 games for Napoli and he really should do better here as he latches onto Insigne's neat clipped pass. However, he attempts to lob Fabiano first time and watches the ball cannon off his shin and go out for a goal kick.
Napoli are upping the tempo again now and Insigne is the next Partenopei player to be denied as he breaks Porto's high defensive line before his scuffed effort is comfortably saved by Fabiano. The young Italian has made a good start here.
HENRIQUE GOES SO CLOSE! Napoli almost level the tie as Mertens gets above Ricardo to cushion a header into Henrique's path. The right-back had done brilliantly to get forward but he cannot produce the finish to match as his sweetly-struck shot goes agonisingly past the post.
Porto have settled into the game after that frantic Napoli start and enjoy a sustained spell of possession inside their own half. The Portuguese champions have not been in good form domestically and saw their title hopes further dented at the weekend when they lost to rivals Sporting.
Luis Vinicio's Napoli were the victors when these two sides first met in the 1974/75 UEFA Cup second round but Porto emerged as 3-1 victors when they met in the Emirates Cup last summer.
Rafa Benitez is one of only two coaches in the last 16 to have won this competition before. The other is AZ Alkmaar's Dick Advocaat who won the 2008 title with Zenit.
Napoli immediately attack down the other end and Insigne stings the palms of Fabiano with a low drive before Ghoulam feels he should be awarded a penalty. English referee Martin Atkinson waves play on.
Porto launch their first attack of the game with Quaresma down the left. However, his dangerous cross into the middle is well cleared by Fernandez, who prevents Martinez adding to his first-leg strike. A lively start here.
With Alex Sandro suspended, Napoli are already finding plenty of space down the right wing and Ricardo is looking particularly vulnerable early on. With Quaresma ahead of him, he could get rather isolated.
FERNANDO TO THE RESCUE! Napoli almost get off to the perfect start as Mertens gets in behind the Porto defence. However, the Belgian is denied the opening goal as Fernando races back superbly to make a crucial last-ditch challenge.
Porto's record in 25 European encounters with Italian opposition is W7 D7 L11.
The referee blows his whistle and Porto get the game underway. Their early touches are met by loud jeers from this lively Napoli crowd.
The teams emerge from the tunnel, with captains Gokhan Inler and Fernando leading out the respective sides to a roar from both sets of fans. There is a superb atmosphere inside the San Paolo so let's hope the football can live up to the occasion. Napoli are in their traditional light blue jerseys with Porto in their alternative white strip.
Napoli coach Rafa Benitez is bidding to become only the third coach to win the trophy in successive seasons, having led Chelsea to victory over Benfica in last year's final. Can he inflict more misery on Portuguese opponents this evening? Kick-off is five minutes away...
Napoli eliminated Swansea in the Europa League round of 32 after a 3-1 second-leg victory at the San Paolo while Porto qualified by virtue of away goals, having drawn both matches against Eintracht Frankfurt.
Porto bench: Kadu, Josue, Herrera, Lica, Agu, Quintero, Ghilas.
PORTO (4-3-3): Fabiano; Danilo, Mangala, Reyes, Ricardo; Carlos Eduardo, Fernando, Defour; Varela, Martinez, Quaresma.
Napoli bench: Colombo, Reveillere, Britos, Callejon, Hamsik, Dzemaili, Duvan Zapata.
NAPOLI (4-2-3-1): Reina; Henrique, Fernandez, Albiol, Ghoulam; Inler, Behrami; Mertens, Pandev, Insigne; Higuain.
PORTO TEAM NEWS: Interim coach Luis Castro is forced to make several changes to the Portuguese champions as goalkeeper Helton has been ruled out for the rest of the season with an Achilles tendon injury. Alex Sandro is also suspended, meaning that Diego Reyes and Ricardo step into the defence. Ricardo Quaresma, Silvestro Varela and Jackson Martinez make up the attacking trident.
NAPOLI TEAM NEWS: The surprising news for Rafa Benitez's side is that midfield duo Marek Hamsik and Jose Callejon start on the bench, with Goran Pandev, Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens supporting Gonzalo Higuain. Christian Maggio is recovering from a collapsed lung, which means that Henrique starts at right-back.
Napoli (1989) and Porto (2003, 2011) are among six former UEFA Cup/ Europa League winners in the round of 16, along with Tottenham, Sevilla, Valencia and final hosts Juventus. Let's take a look at the team news...
Napoli and Porto both bowed out of the Champions League at the group stage and the Serie A side will be hopeful of extending their European run as they have won all four of their games at the San Paolo in European competition this season. It promises to be a fascinating encounter. Bringing you all the action from Naples this evening, my name is Max Bentley.
With a place in the Europa League quarter-finals awaiting the victor, Napoli aim to overturn their 1-0 first leg deficit this evening as they host 2011 winners Porto. Jackson Martinez's 57th-minute strike was the difference a week ago but the tie is far from over and Napoli fans can take comfort from the fact that Porto have lost three of their four games on Italian soil since 2000.
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