Vito Doria Date: 22nd October 2020 at 8:52pm
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Napoli suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat to Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in the opening Group F fixture in the Europa League on Thursday evening.

Dani De Wit was the hero for the Cheeseheads in the second half, whose squad had been decimated due to COVID-19, and the Partenopei dominated possession throughout the match but they were not able to beat Marco Bizot in the Alkmaar goal.

Defences were on top for the opening 10 minutes as both teams struggled to carve out clear scoring opportunities, then Napoli striker Victor Osimhen had a goal correctly disallowed for offside in the 14th minute.

Alkmaar winger Jesper Karlsson had arguably his team’s best chance of scoring in the first half when he shot straight at Alex Meret in the Partenopei goal.

Matteo Politano had a deflected shot saved by Bizot while efforts from Dries Mertens and Osimhen were easily saved by the AZ Alkmaar goalkeeper soon after.

As the first half progressed, Napoli kept on attacking whereas the Cheeseheads were content with sitting back and defending.

The Neapolitans came close to scoring in the 35th minute, when Osimhen centered for Mertens, who curled his shot wide. Partenopei left-back Elseid Hysaj tried his luck soon after but to no avail.

Napoli had one more chance to score just before half-time from a Mertens freekick but Osimhen could not get a proper connection on the ball.

The early minutes of the second half carried on in the second vain as the first, with chances rarely being created. Kalidou Koulibaly had a chance with a header but the ball went over the bar.

AZ Alkmaar scored against the run of play after 57 minutes with a well-worked team move. Jonas Svensson combined with Yukinari Sugawara and the Norwegian right-back crossed for De Wit, who placed the ball to right of Meret in the Napoli goal.

Mario Rui came on for Hysaj and he crossed from Osimhen, who headed straight at Bizot. Andrea Petagna replaced Osimhen and his diving header went wide minutes after coming on.

Politano had three shots from distance that were deflected out but neither effort found the back of the net. Fabian Ruiz also tried his luck from outside of the box but he shot straight at Bizot.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo had one more chance from a set-piece in stoppage time but his effort went wide.

Napoli face Real Sociedad in their next Europa League match on October 29.