A stunning Lorenzo Insigne free kick proved just enough for Napoli who narrowly beat 10-man Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in their Champions League Group F opener on Wednesday.
Gonzalo Higuain’s 29th minute glancing header and Insigne’s superb strike in the 67th minute looked to have given the Serie A leaders a fully deserved win against last season’s beaten finalists,who had goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller sent off late in the first half. Also Read: Lionel Messi nets three as Barcelona crush Ajax
Weidenfeller was given a straight red card after he rushed out of his area to beat Higuain to Insigne’s floated pass in stoppage time and blatantly batted it away with his hand.
Italy international Insigne’s free kick,which he sent crashing in off the bar from fully 30 yards out and at a difficult angle,capped off a superb display which would have caught the eye of national team boss Cesare Prandelli. Also Read: Stunned at Bridge! Basel beat Chelsea 2-1 in opener
Rafael Benitez’s side missed a series of chances in the second half,and a Juan Zuniga own goal in the 87th minute left them sweating against dogged Dortmund.
“I’m really satisfied because we did all the things that we spoke about before the game,” said Benitez.
“We can still improve plenty because you always see something that you can do a bit better,but after a match like that against last year’s finalists I have to be happy.
“These players have enough quality to play at an international level,you need to give faith to the group… the players seem happy but I’m sure that we can do even better.” Also Read: Clinical Arsenal get 2-1 win at Marseille
Higuain had already been denied by a superb last ditch tackle from Neven Subotic when he gave the hosts the lead with a brilliant strikers’ goal,nipping in between Dortmund’s static backline to head home Zuniga’s inswinging cross from close range.
“It was a great win against difficult opposition,who got to the final of the Champions League last season,” said the Argentina international.
“We have a great team,a great manager behind us and I hope that we carry on the way we are.”
Dortmund manager Juergen Klopp was sent off in the aftermath following fierce protests to the fourth official,apparently for not allowing defender Subotic to come back on to defend the corner that led to the goal,after the defender had left the field.
The hosts could have wrapped the game up long before Insigne smashed home the winning goal,with the playmaker causing Dortmund’s defence all sorts of problems with his probing runs and incisive passing.
However,they sat back after their second and after Zuniga somehow contrived to deflect in a daft own goal with his heel it was not until Pepe Reina pulled off a last minute save from Marco Reus’ free kick that the packed San Paolo stadium could breathe a sigh of relief.