Napoli, Bayern Munich draw at Naples

BY foxsports • October 18, 2011

Bayern Munich stayed in control of Group A of the Champions League with a 1-1 draw at Napoli on Tuesday, although the four-time winners blew a chance of victory when Mario Gomez failed to convert a second-half penalty.

Toni Kroos scored with Bayern's first opportunity, easily finding the target after striding through the center of Napoli's defense unmarked in the second minute.

Napoli equalized in the 39th when Bayern defender Holger Badstuber diverted in a cross from Christian Maggio and Napoli goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis stopped a weak penalty shot from Gomez in the 49th.

''Obviously we came to Napoli to win, even though we knew we were up against a good squad,'' Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said. ''We could be satisfied with a draw, although we dominated much of the match.''

Still, Bayern leads the group with seven points, while Napoli is next with five - as both sides remained unbeaten. Manchester City is third on four points after a late winner against last-place Villarreal, which has zero points.

''I'm fairly certain we'll advance,'' Heynckes said.

Bayern dismissed both Villarreal and City by scores of 2-0 in its opening group matches and had kept clean sheets in its previous 12 matches in all competitions.

Playing in Europe's top competition for the first time since Diego Maradona led the southern club to Italian titles in 1987 and 1990, Napoli opened with a 1-1 draw at City and then also beat Villarreal 2-0.

Napoli has also beaten both AC Milan and Inter Milan in Serie A this season, and the draw against Bayern extended its home unbeaten streak in Europe to 10 matches since returning to continental competition after 13 years in 2008.

''After the goal we rearranged a few tactical things that weren't working and we played a great game,'' Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri said. ''I think (Bayern) is the strongest squad in Europe right now.''

There was a rare sellout of more than 60,000 fans at the dilapidated San Paolo stadium, with some 3,000 Bayern fans caged in behind plastic partitions and netting reaching up to the stadium roof.

Fans from both sides lit flares before kickoff, sending up clouds of smoke, and the German fans stomped up and down throughout the 90 minutes, while Napoli supporters waved huge flags and whistled at the visitors.

Heynckes was in his first stint in charge of Bayern in 1989 when the German squad was eliminated by Napoli in the UEFA Cup semifinals.

''I saw the fans supporting the squad just like back then,'' Heynckes said. ''Every player would like to play before an atmosphere like that, It was like in the times of Diego Maradona. Napoli is playing artistic football again. We came up against a great squad 20 years ago and again tonight.''

Bayern took control immediately when Jerome Boateng slotted the ball into Kroos' path for the 21-year-old midfielder to beat De Sanctis with an angled shot from near the penalty spot.

Napoli threatened with a headed deflection from Edinson Cavani that missed wide in the seventh and Gomez struck a powerful shot wide from beyond the area in the 20th - as the German side once again found a weakness in the center of Napoli's three-man defense.

Napoli captain Paolo Cannavaro picked up a yellow card for protests midway through the first half and will miss the next match at Bayern on Nov. 2.

By the final whistle, nine yellow cards had been handed out in all.

With exciting end-to-end action, Boateng threatened in the 33rd with a dangerous bouncing shot from a sharp angle, which De Sanctis was able to stop before Cannavaro cleared.

Napoli appealed for a penalty in the 35th when the ball appeared to hit Bastian Schweinsteiger on the arm, although Portuguese referee Olegario Benquerenca thought otherwise.

With Napoli still to attempt a shot on goal, Maggio carried the ball up the right flank and crossed toward Cavani but the ball deflected in off Badstuber as goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was about to grab it.

Gomez's penalty was awarded when Cannavaro was penalized for stopping a shot from the Bayern striker with his hand.

''I saw how he kicked the last time in the (Bundesliga), it was to (the goalkeeper's) right, so this time I dived the other way,'' De Sanctis said. ''It was a bit lucky.''

After the missed penalty, Bayern pressed for the winner but couldn't quite find the target, and Napoli failed to take advantage of a perfect cross from Juan Zuniga in the 58th.


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