Napoli took a significant step towards their first Champions League quarter-final after a 2-0 victory over 10-man Eintracht Frankfurt on Tuesday.
Victor Osimhen’s 40th-minute opener at Deutsche Bank Park set Napoli on their way in the first leg of their last-16 clash after Kevin Trapp saved a Khvicha Kvaratskhelia penalty.
Randal Kolo Muani’s red card after 58 minutes only served to further Napoli’s cause before Giovanni Di Lorenzo netted to secure a comfortable lead in the tie.
Eintracht will have the chance to fight back in Naples on March 15, though it appears little can stop Luciano Spalletti’s Serie A leaders at present.
Kolo Muani blasted an early warning shot wide after a smart flick past Amir Rrahmani, but Napoli soon began to dominate.
Their pressure told as Aurelio Buta needlessly felled Osimhen inside the area after Hirving Lozano struck the right post, only for Trapp to dive to his right to save Kvaratskhelia’s poor penalty.
Napoli did reap their rewards four minutes later, though, as Osimhen turned in Lozano’s right-wing cross, with the same combination then denied a swift second by an offside flag.
Trapp parried away a swerving Lozano attempt after the interval before Kvaratskhelia wasted a glorious chance with a chip straight at the onrushing Eintracht goalkeeper, but matters went from bad to worse for Eintracht soon enough.
Kolo Muani was shown a straight red for a lunge on Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, and Napoli capitalised as a smart Kvaratskhelia backheel found Di Lorenzo, who curled low into the bottom-left corner to secure a two-goal cushion.
What does it mean? Business as usual for in-form Napoli
Eintracht had lost only two of 19 matches in Europe under Oliver Glasner – and just one in nine on home soil – but Napoli present an entirely different challenge this season.
Although Spalletti’s in-form side, who have won 20 of 23 Serie A games this term, were slow to get going, Eintracht had no answer once they found their feet.
Napoli have never progressed past this round in the Champions League, but it will take something special to stop the rampant Partenopei this time.
Osimhen’s remarkable form has led to speculation around a move to Manchester United or Chelsea, but his focus for now is on Napoli’s dual bid for Serie A and Champions League glory.
The Nigeria international certainly did not appear distracted as he scored in a sixth successive match – his best streak for Napoli.
Error compounds Eintracht misery
Kolo Muani embodied Eintracht’s early promise, with his nimble footwork and pace causing repeated problems down the right flank.
But hopes of a positive outcome in this first leg – and perhaps in the tie, too – were erased after a reckless tackle was rightly punished.
Napoli return to action in Serie A with a Saturday trip to Empoli, while Eintracht travel to RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga on the same day.