Goals from Victor Osimhen and Giovanni Di Lorenzo gave dominant Napoli a comfortable 2-0 victory at Eintracht Frankfurt in their UEFA Champions League last-16 first leg tie on Tuesday.
Napoli, bidding to reach their first quarter-final in the competition, went ahead when Osimhen, tapped in at the far post after 40 minutes.
The Super Eagles striker has now scored 10 goals in his last nine games across all competitions.
Eintracht Frankfurt were reduced to 10 men just before the hour and Napoli captain Di Lorenzo soon doubled the visitors’ advantage in the 65th.
He scored from a superb back-heel assist by the tricky Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who made amends for his first half penalty kick miss.
“I am happy with the performance,” Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti said. “From the start the team played with character, took control of the game and did what we wanted to do.
“We probably had the chance to score an extra goal that could have been useful for us. I still think it is 50-50 for qualification, because there is still a game to be played.
“We need the utmost humility because when you face a team convinced you have an advantage you can then end up dealing with unexpected situations. Arrogance is the biggest enemy.”
Error-prone Eintracht Frankfurt had Randal Kolo Muani red-carded for a foul in the 58th minute.
They were no match for the Italians who were sharper from the start and hit the post in the 34th minute through Hirving Lozano.
Napoli earned a penalty kick immediately after as Eintracht Frankfurt’s Aurelio Buta kicked Osimhen in his effort to clear the ball.
Georgia forward Kvaratskhelia, who with Osimhen has a combined total of 32 goals in all competitions this season for Napoli, failed to beat Kevin Trapp from the penalty kick spot.
Osimhen did it much better only five minutes later after Mexican Lozano, who wreaked havoc down the right with his darting runs, whipped in another low cross to the far post.
The Nigerian striker only needed to bundle the ball home to score.
Osimhen put the ball in the net again in an almost identical move a minute later but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Close-season signing Kvaratskhelia had a golden chance to double the lead in the 57th minute but again did not manage to beat Trapp in a one-on-one after another Lozano through-ball.
The turning-point for Eintracht Frankfurt came a minute later when their top scorer Kolo Muani got his marching orders for a clumsy challenge on Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa.
Napoli’s pressure grew and they were rewarded when Kvaratskhelia picked up the ball in the box and backheeled it for Di Lorenzo to curl a shot into the far bottom corner.
“We still have a second leg to play,” said Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Mario Goetze. “They scored two goals here, why should we not do that as well? We know everything is still possible.”
Elsewhere on Tuesday, defending champions Real Madrid produced a stunning comeback from two goals down to earn a devastating 5-2 victory at Anfield in the first leg of their last-16 encounter.(Reuters/