Napoli 1-1 Villarreal: Pina strikes as Partenopei crash out
Napoli crashed out of the Europa League at the San Paolo on Thursday evening as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Villarreal and lost 2-1 on aggregate.
Marek Hamsik levelled the aggregate score midway through the first-half with a sumptuous volley but Tomas Pina provided the hammer blow shortly after the restart when his cross inadvertently looped over a hapless Pepe Reina.
Villarreal fashioned the first threatening chance of the contest inside two minutes when Bruno Soriano headed just wide from a corner.
Reina spared his side’s blushes on 13 minutes when the bullish Cedric Bakumbu was ushered in by Roberto Soldado but shot straight at the Partenopei goalkeeper.
He would be left ruing that miss when Napoli broke the deadlock five minutes later.
Menaced by the presence of Gonzalo Higuain, Mateo Mussachio’s headed clearance fell invitingly to Hamsik on the edge of the area who arrowed a volley into the bottom corner.
Vlad Chiriches ought to have doubled his side’s lead when he freed himself from the attentions of Victor Ruiz and headed Mirko Valdifiori’s corner agonisingly over.
Napoli were bristling with intent during the dying moments of the first-half as Mussachio turned Dries Mertens’ cut-back against his own upright.
Reina’s fingertips prevented Bakambu from tapping into an empty net just minutes shy of the hour mark.
Their second-half endeavour was rewarded on 58 minutes when Pina’s seemingly innocuous cross looped over Reina and into the far corner.
Areola was forced into two stops in quick succession when he thwarted Lorenzo Insigne’s effort before tipping Mertens’ curling attempt over the crossbar.