Cavani double puts City's CL in doubt
Edinson Cavani ended his scoring drought in style with two goals in a 2-1 win over Manchester City on Tuesday, inflicting a big hit on the Premier League leaders' chances of qualifying for the knockout phase of the Champions League.
Cavani, who hadn't scored since Oct. 29, gave Napoli the lead with a glancing header off a corner in the 17th minute.
Italy forward Mario Balotelli then took advantage of a defensive error to equalize for City in the 33rd. But Cavani restored Napoli's lead in the 49th, taking a cross from Andrea Dossena and firing past goalkeeper Joe Hart from the center of the area.
In a furious finish, Napoli forward Marek Hamsik hit the post in the 76th and Balotelli wasted four chances to equalize.
Bayern Munich leads Group A with 13 points after beating Villarreal 3-1. Napoli is next with eight, City seven and Villarreal zero. Napoli controls its own destiny, and can advance by winning its final match no matter what City does. City, however, needs to beat Bayern and hope Napoli doesn't win in Spain. In the final group round on Dec. 7, City hosts Bayern and Napoli visits Villarreal.
For Cavani's first goal, the ball also touched City defender Aleksandar Kolarov and Hart before going in, and Cavani nearly scored again when he hit the side of the net two minutes later.
Cavani scored 26 goals for Napoli in Serie A last season, managed a hat trick against AC Milan in September and also found the net in his opening two Champions League games this season. But he had struggled in recent weeks, with his last goal coming against Catania in the Italian league last month.
City's equalizer was the product of a poor clearing attempt from Salvatore Aronica. The ball went directly to David Silva, whose shot was deflected by goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis directly to Balotelli, who sent it into an empty net.
Balotelli was playing his first club match back in his home country since leaving Inter Milan and he now has two Champions League goals to go with his six Premier League scores this campaign.
The scene at the San Paolo stadium was electric, with about 60,000 fans filling the stands for one of the biggest crowds since Diego Maradona led Napoli to Italian titles in 1987 and 1990.
However, there were only a couple of thousand City fans, leaving the visiting supporters cage - which features double sets of Plexiglass barriers and netting stretching up to the stadium roof - half empty.
Before kickoff, Napoli fans put on a fancy display, as fans held up cards in the squad's blue-and-white colors nearly all the way around the main ring of stands, and formed the outline of the letter 'N' with lines of flares on one end.
During the second half, fans held aloft a banner mourning the recent death of Maradona's mother, Dalma Salvadora Franco de Maradona. It read, ''Lay in peace the mother of football, ciao Dona Tota.''
City began with Balotelli and Edin Dzeko in attack - leaving Sergio Aguero, its most productive scorer this season and Maradona's son-in-law, on the bench. Aguero came on late in the second half.
Napoli countered with its ''Three Tenors'' of Hamsik, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Cavani.
In the 63rd, Balotelli couldn't quite reach a cross with only the goalkeeper to beat, and he then was denied by De Sanctis in the 78th, headed high in the 82nd and failed to redirect a corner in the 84th.