Napoli made it two wins from three Europa League games with a Jeckyll and Hyde type performance that saw them come from a goal behind to beat Rijeka 2-1 at the Stadion Rijecka on Thursday evening.
An early strike from Robert Muric gave the Rijecki a surprise lead and was confounding the bet365 odds before Diego Demme’s late first half effort for the Partenopei sent the teams into the break on level terms. However, an unfortunate own goal by Filip Braut just 25 minutes from time ensured that Gennaro Gattuso’s team would return home with all three points
Napoli will now turn their attentions back to domestic action as they prepare for a tough trip to the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara where they will face Bologna on Sunday afternoon.
Despite the Partenopei being heavy favourites to win it was the hosts who started the contest as the stronger of the two teams as they pressured their visitors from kick off and forced Alex Meret into action on several occasions.
That pressure paid off just before the quarter of an hour mark when Muric’s well placed long range shot found the bottom corner to give the Rijecki the lead, much to Gattuso’s displeasure on the Napoli bench.
The goal did little to rouse the visitors and with the exception of Meret, who was doing his best to keep his team in the contest, they looked disjointed as they struggled to match the Rijecki’s enthusiasm despite controlling possession.
However, with only two minutes to go until the halftime whistle Gattuso’s men suddenly burst into life and with their first shot on target they restored parity to proceedings. Dries Mertens quick feet made some space in the Rijecka box and Demme was on hand to turn the ball past Ivan Nevistic to send the teams into the break all square.
Demme’s late strike had brought out a different side to the Partenopei and they went close to taking the lead only five minutes into the second stanza when Mertens free kick rattled the Rijecki’s cross bar.
With the hosts under a constant stream of pressure it was only a matter of time before Napoli would break the deadlock and they eventually made the break through as the game entered its final quarter. Mertens was again at the centre of the action as his well placed cross caused chaos in the Rijeka box and Braut sent the ball into his own goal.
Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Hirving Lozano would all come close to extending the Partenopei’s lead before the full time whistle, but they were unable to put the finishing touches on what had been an average performance.