MX23RW : Tuesday, December 18 18:08:21
Oct 17, 2017 at 7.45pm UK at ​Etihad Stadium
Attendance: 48,520
Man CityManchester City
Sterling (9'), Jesus (13')
FT(HT: 2-0)
Diawara (73' pen.)

Live Commentary: Manchester City 2-1 Napoli - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live text coverage of Manchester City's 2-1 win over Napoli, as the Citizens made it three wins from three in the Champions League.
Live Commentary: Manchester City 2-1 Napoli - as it happened
© Offside

Early goals from in-form duo Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus paved the way for Manchester City to edge past Napoli 2-1 in Tuesday night's Champions League clash.

Sterling netted from 10 yards nine minutes into the game and Jesus from even closer range four minutes later, as the Citizens quickly clicked into gear.

After squandering chances to add a killer third, Amadou Diawara converted from the penalty spot - having seen Dries Mertens's earlier spot kick saved by Ederson - as the visitors set up a nervy finale.

Relive how the 90 minutes of action unfolded with Sports Mole's live text coverage below.

6.45pmHello and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of the Champions League clash between Manchester City and Napoli at the Etihad Stadium. Two of Europe's in-form sides lock horns in one of the standout ties of the tournament so far, aiming to occupy top spot in Group F ahead of the reverse fixture in Naples a little over two weeks from now.

6.47pmCity currently sit top of the standings thanks to two wins from two on the continent, while their opponents are three points worse off after seeing their perfect record in all competitions blemished by Shakhtar Donetsk last month. Going further back, the Partenopei have lost just two of their last 32 overall.


STARTING XI: Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Stones, Delph; Fernandinho, De Bruyne Silva; Sane, Sterling, Jesus

SUBS: Bravo, Aguero, Gundogan, Danilo, Yaya Toure, Mangala, Bernardo

6.51pmStarting with a look at the home side's starting lineup, Pep Guardiola has decided to go with an unchanged XI. That was once a a rarity under the Catalan coach, having stuck with a winning formula just five times during his 15 months or so at the helm. Guardiola is clearly happy with the way things are going at the moment, though - rightly so, having won nine matches on the spin in all competitions.

6.53pmAn unchanged starting lineup means that Sergio Aguero is made to wait a little while longer for his return, of course, three weeks on from being caught up in a car crash in Amsterdam. The Argentina international has made a swifter-than-expected recovery, but he was not needed for the 7-2 destruction of Stoke City and may also be left in reserve for this one if things go to plan.

6.55pmGabriel Jesus will instead be tasked to lead the line, offered support from wide positions by in-form duo Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane. Further back there is a place for Kevin De Bruyne, described as "head and shoulders above" all other Premier League players right now by Stoke boss Mark Hughes a few days back, while David Silva and Fernandinho start alongside him in a three-man midfield. Elsewhere, there is still no sign of injured captain Vincent Kompany.


STARTING XI: Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Diawara, Zielinski, Hamsik; Callejon, Insigne, Mertens

SUBS: Allan, Jorginho, Maggio, Maksimovic, Ounas, Rog, Sepe

6.59pmIn terms of the visitors, boss Maurizio Sarri - told to rotate things tonight by president Aurelio De Laurentiis - has left out two of his key midfield men this evening. Jorginho and Allan both miss out on selection, replaced in the starting lineup by Amadou Diawara and Piotr Zielinski. The two men who miss out have been crucial to this Napoli system, so being without them tonight could rob us of a goalfest.

7.01pmDiawara will likely sit deep in front of the backline, which is not all that surprising considering the threat of this City side - they did put seven past Stoke here just a few days ago, after all. Allan is perhaps feeling the effects of the 1-0 win over Roma at the weekend, meanwhile, leaving Sarri with little choice but to chop and change slightly. Either way, this is still a very talented side that has the quality needed to pick up a point tonight.

7.03pmIt is in the attack line where Napoli's talents really jump out, with Dries Mertens thriving through the middle after being moved there last season. The Belgium international has more than adapted since replacing injured teammate Arkadiusz Milik, scoring seven goals in eight outings in Serie A this season alone. Mertens has been directly involved in nine goals in his last 14 Champions League matches, meanwhile, scoring six and setting up three.

7.05pmPep Guardiola has stuck with an unchanged starting lineup tonight - just the fifth time he has done so during his time in charge of Manchester City. Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri has made a couple of big changes in midfield, meanwhile, replacing Jorginho and Allan with Amadou Diawara and Piotr Zielinski on the back of the battling 1-0 win over Roma three days ago.

Sergio Aguero in action during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Everton on August 21, 2017© Offside

7.07pmThis, fingers crossed, should be one of the more entertaining rounds of the group stage. Plenty of statistics to highlight just how impressive these two sides are in attack, with both managing 115 shots so far this campaign. In terms of chances created, Napoli boast the higher number - 123 to 133 - but City have scored more goals thanks to their 37 compared to the Italian side's 34.

7.09pmCity are no strangers to European competition these days, of course, having competed at this stage of the competition seven seasons running now. They have failed to make too much of an impact, though, advancing beyond the last-16 on just one occasions when being knocked out at the semi-final stage by Real Madrid last year. Guardiola was brought in to change all that, but his first foray in this competition with City ended in serious disappointment.

7.11pmThe Citizens crashed out at the first knockout-stage hurdle last term, incredibly exiting the competition on away goals following a 12-goal thriller with Ligue 1 champions Monaco. City do look the real deal this time around following some serious strengthening in the summer, however, completely overhauling their full-back department and also recruiting some real quality in midfield. They are, you have to say, primed for a real run deep into the competition.

7.13pmGuardiola's men have won 10 and drawn one of their 11 games so far this season; a run that includes a current nine-match winning streak in all competitions. It has been pointed out by Guardiola that the Citizens also started last season impressively, boasting an identical overall record, only to then fade away and end the campaign trophyless - the first time that has happened in the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager's career.

7.15pmThey key this time around is that the Premier League leaders look much more balanced across the field, keeping out the opposition while also taking all of their chances. Thirty-four goals scored and four conceded during this current nine-match winning run is proof of that; it will take something big to stop this City side when they are in this type of mood. Half of those goals conceded, by the way, came against Stoke at the weekend.

7.17pmThat meeting with Stoke was the first of four-successive home games for Guardiola's charges, continuing with this Champions League tie and taking in games against both Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League and EFL Cup respectively. It is all systems go at the moment, but Guardiola is reluctant to change a winning formula as he goes with the same XI once again tonight. Can you really blame him after recent performances?

7.19pmCity have already beaten champions Chelsea and possible title challengers Liverpool, so you can hardly call them flat-track bullies. The 1-0 win against the Blues at Stamford Bridge was arguably the most impressive of their victories thus far, in fact, despite the slender nature of the scoreline, as they completely dominated the contest and rightly picked up maximum points through a well-struck De Bruyne effort.

7.21pmA quick glance at the fixture list, with only Arsenal left to play of the big boys between now and the middle of December, suggests that the Citizens could well continue building up momentum. It never really works that way, of course, with a shock result always just around the corner, so Guardiola will be keen to keep his men on their toes during this gruelling run of fixtures. Right now the focus is on Europe, with three points tonight the target against an equally strong Napoli side.

7.23pmCity have very much carried their domestic form into the Champions League with them, winning both games so far by an aggregate 6-0 scoreline, following up their opening-match 4-0 victory away to Feyenoord with a tougher 2-0 triumph against Shakhtar Donetsk last time out. Victory tonight will put some distance between the Citizens and Napoli, who could well prioritise their domestic campaign should they come out second best in Manchester.

7.25pmDefeat for City, though, which is hardly that far-fetched when looking at the Partenopei's form, all of a sudden Group F is wide open. Feyenoord host Shakhtar in the other game, so the picture may become a little clearer come 10pm this evening when we hit the midway point. Either way, nothing will be decided tonight, but the Citizens can put one step into the last-16 stage with a 10th win in succession.

7.27pmDID YOU KNOW? Manchester City are unbeaten in their last 10 Champions League home matches since going down 2-1 to Juventus here in September 2015. The Citizens have lost just four of their last 23 games on the continent overall, in fact, with three of those coming against heavyweight sides Juve, Real Madrid and Barcelona. The other was that aforementioned reverse away to Monaco, which ended their hopes of progression in the second leg of the last-16 stage in 2016-17.

Pep Guardiola has a chat with Bernardo Silva during the Champions League game between Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk on September 26, 2017© SilverHub

7.29pmThe priority for Napoli this season may well lie domestically, as they have made a storming start to the campaign to climb top of the Serie A table after eight matches. A 1-0 victory over Roma at the Stadio Olimpico at the weekend, sealed through Lorenzo Insigne's 100th club goal, made it eight wins from those eight games - an incredible run of form that suggests they may well be the real deal this term, having previously finished second and third under Sarri.

7.31pmSarri's men have a reputation as being the pass masters of Europe, taking on their own brad of football that sees them work the ball patiently up the field in a vertical manner, eventually making its way to the highly-talented trio of Insigne, Callejon and Mertens. Napoli, much like City, have entertained this term thanks to 26 goals for and just three against - a slightly lower combined goal difference than the Citizens, but impressive nonetheless.

7.33pmNapoli have won 11 of their 12 games in all competition this term, with Shakhtar the only side to inflict defeat on them on matchday one in Europe. That has left the Partenopei playing catch up somewhat, though they did respond well with a 3-1 win over Feyenoord in Naples a few weeks back courtesy of goals from forward trio Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon. More of the same is needed this evening.

7.35pmPresident Aurelio De Laurentiis, as touched upon a little earlier, felt that Sarri should have rested each of his key men tonight ahead of the huge showdown with Inter Milan next weekend. Inter travel to Stadio San Paolo on Saturday sitting just two points off the summit, while Lazio and perennial champions Juventus are currently five points off the pace. A long, long way to go, but Sarri's men are looking good value to lift the title for the first time since 1990.

7.37pmNapoli have made it out of the group stage in two of their three involvements in this competition, but they have never previously made it past the last-16 stage. A look at this latest talented crop gives the impression that they could be about to change that, though only if Sarri is given the chance to focus on both Europe and Serie A in equal measure. With back-to-back games against City to come, they will hope to still be in the running come mid-November.

7.39pmPREVIOUS MEETINGS! These two sides have met on two previous occasions, both coming in the 2011-12 group stage of the Champions League when Napoli won 2-1 in Naples and claimed a 1-1 draw here in the reverse fixture. That match at the Etihad Stadium was actually the Citizens' first in this competition, earning a share of the spoils after Aleksandar Kolarov cancelled out Edinson Cavani's opener in the final 15 minutes.

7.41pmWith kickoff now less than five minutes away at the Etihad Stadium, let us check out some pre-match thoughts from both camps.

Pep Guardiola: "Do I believe [Laurentiis]? Absolutely not. But he is travelling with Sarri in the same plane, or in a private jet. He can ask him, Mr Sarri, if he is going to play like this, but I think in the last eight games they played in the same lineup. I can announce which players are going to play, Napoli, against us. They do many many things and all the things they do they do perfectly. In Italy they have won eight games in a row, and won in Rome against Lazio and Roma."

Maurizio Sarri: "The feeling I get watching Man City play, I didn't even get watching Real Madrid last year. I always felt my team could give opponents a hard time, but this time I think Man City are a formidable team. But if we want to play at a certain level, we have to do it in important matches and aim at achieving results. I watched a few matches. I didn't want to watch all of them because I didn't want to get depressed. I think Man City are by far the strongest team in Europe at the moment."

7.43pmGuardiola called Napoli's bluff in some respects, though the Serie A leaders are a little weaker than usual after leaving out Allan and Jorginho. Sarri has no doubt that his side are taking on the best Europe currently has to offer, meanwhile, as his Napoli team aim to earn a first away win against English opposition at the sixth attempt, having lost five of those and conceded 15 goals in the process.

Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri at the game against Lazio on April 9, 2017© SilverHub

1 minKICKOFF! Manchester City get us up and running at the Etihad Stadium in this mouthwatering Champions League tie. Napoli, showing those two midfield changes from last time out, already having to defend just seconds into the match.

3 minThe Citizens the side on top in the opening stages of the match, looking to pick up from where they left off against Stoke. There appears to be a fair few empty seats around the Etihad Stadium this evening, with the away fans making the majority of the noise.

5 minJesus looked to be through on goal with only Reina to beat after the ball fell nicely into his path. The referee quickly blew his whistle for an earlier infringement, though, as City are made to wait for their first glimpse of the visitors' goal.

7 minCity already looking like they have a couple of goals in them tonight. The ball is turned over in midfield and so nearly slotted through for Sterling, but a last-ditch challenge prevented him from charging through from the right-hand side.

9 minNapoli yet to really work the ball into the oppositions' final third; instead City continue to knock the ball around, slowly looking for that killer through-ball to expose the visitors' backline. Good, positive start by the Citizens here.


11 minMan City have the breakthrough at the Etihad Stadium with less than 10 minutes on the clock. After a bit of pinball inside the box, Raheem Sterling blasted home the loose ball for his eighth goal of what is shaping up to be a memorable campaign for him and his side.

13 minWalker's initial shot was blocked in front of goal from around eight yards out, prior to Sterling firing past Reina for that breakthrough moment. City have not looked back, with Jesus getting in behind but failing to pick out a teammate.


15 minThere really is not stopping them at the moment, as Gabriel Jesus joins Raheem Sterling in finding the back of the net. De Bruyne picked up the second ball on the edge of the opposition box and sent a delightful cross towards the back post for his teammate to tap home.

17 minA reminder that Napoli have conceded just five goals in Serie A so far during their eight-matching winning run to begin the season. They are being made to look like no-hopers by City, who really are too hot to handle right now.

19 minThe Citizens could quite easily double their advantage before the half is out if they continue playing the way they are. Just the two chances so far, but they have taken both of them and are now well on course for three wins from three in Europe.

21 minNapoli just looking to get their attacking players on the ball, but they have barely had a touch between them so far. Sarri will be unimpressed, though sometimes you just have to hold your hands up - City are very much in the form of their lives.

23 minA good cross comes into the box from the left, but Stones is there to successfully cover. That is pretty much as good as things have got for the visitors so far, having been made to sit back against a dominant Man City side.

25 minCHANCE! That is now five goals in five games for Sterling and eight in 11 for Gabriel Jesus. All to easy for the Citizens at the moment, as Silva fails to convert from close range once picked out by a Fernandinho cross.

27 minTwo goals from two shots on goal for City so far, but they are slowly starting to rack up the attempt count. Moments after Silva was wayward from close range, Sane volleyed wide of the target from an awkward position - that would have been special!

29 minOFF THE BAR! Almost an absolute gem from man of the moment De Bruyne, who looked for the far left corner from the edge of the box only to be denied by the woodwork. The ball bounced down on the line and back up, but Sterling could not convert from the rebound.

31 minOFF THE LINE! This really is majestic football from City, who should have a third. De Bruyne hit the woodwork and now Koulibaly has kept out Jesus's shot right on the line, with goal-line technology deeming that it did not cross the line.

33 minA good stop from Napoli defender Koulibaly on the line, with half the ball being kept out. Sterling fires the ball wide from the next attacking move, as the Citizens close in on what would surely be a killer third goal of the evening.

35 minHalf time is now 10 minutes away and Napoli have still yet to put an attacking move together - pretty incredible, considering they are widely considered to be the second-best side on the continent behind tonight's opponents.

37 minNapoli have given us a glimpse of what they are capable of, putting together a half-decent move that comes to little as City keeper Ederson collected the left-sided cross into the box. One goal from the visitors changes everything.

38 minA decent opportunity for the hosts breaks down when Sane miscontrolls the ball inside the box, with Gabriel Jesus well positioned alongside him. The Citizens have done enough to deserve a third, but Napoli are growing into the match a little more.

39 minPENALTY SAVED! Kyle Walker brought down Raul Albiol inside the box, leaving the referee with little choice but to point to the penalty spot. Up stepped in-form forward Dries Mertens, but Ederson stood his ground to keep it out.

41 minSo after completely dominating the game, scoring a couple of goals and coming close to a third and fourth, it could so easily have been game on. Mertens's failure to convert from the spot means that City are still in command of this tie.

43 minNo denying that we have had more of a contest on our hands over the past 10 minutes, so there are some positives for Sarri to take into the interval with him. Looks as though it will be just the two goals in it, with the half-time whistle a couple of minutes away.

45 minOne thing I didn't mention following that penalty save was the work of Fernandinho to get to the rebound first. A couple of Napoli players charging in but the Brazilian was quickest to it and helped clear the danger - superb defending.


8.35pmA chance for City to add a third right at the end of the first half, but Jesus could not get the better of Reina from close range after Marek Hamsik gave possession away in midfield. Prior to that, De Bruyne joined Walker - booked when giving away the pen - in entering the referee's book in a lively opening 45 minutes at the Etihad Stadium.

8.38pmCity picked up from where they left off against Stoke City here three days ago by bagging two goals inside the opening quarter of an hour. The first came via Raheem Sterling, who blasted home from close range for his fifth goal in five games after Kyle Walker's initial shot was blocked into his path. Gabriel Jesus, himself in form with eight in 11 this term, added a quick-fire second from the next attempt on target when picked out by a super back-post delivery from Kevin De Bruyne.

8.41pmNapoli, showing two key changes in midfield this evening with Allan and Jorginho overlooked for selection, simply could not live with their opponents and could easily have found themselves three or four down. Two chances in quick succession saw David Silva fail to connect from six yards out and Leroy Sane blast wide of the target with his volleyed attempt from an angle.

8.44pmDe Bruyne then struck the underside of the bar when attempting to pick out the far left corner with his curler, while Kalidou Koulibaly was in the right place at the right time to deny Jesus on the line after the Brazilian turned and shot. Despite their dominance, it could so easily have been game on once again before the break as Walker gave away a penalty by hauling down Raul Albiol, but Dries Mertens - seven goals in eight league games for him this term - came out second best against Ederson.

8.47pmManchester City deservedly two goals ahead at the interval, then, but this one is far from over with 45 minutes left to play. Here is quick reminder of both sides' benches at the midway point, with a full selection still available to choose from.

MANCHESTER CITY SUBS: Bravo, Aguero, Gundogan, Danilo, Yaya Toure, Mangala, Bernardo

NAPOLI SUBS: Allan, Jorginho, Maggio, Maksimovic, Ounas, Rog, Sepe

Kevin De Bruyne and Marek Hamsik in action during the Champions League group game between Manchester City and Napoli on October 17, 2017© Offside

46 minRESTART! Napoli get proceedings back under way at the Etihad Stadium, looking to drag themselves back into the match. A dominant first-half showing from Manchester City, but the visitors did show signs of recovery in the final 10 minutes.

48 minThe other Group F clash is all-square between Feyenoord and Shakhtar Donetsk, incidentally, as Bernard cancelled out Steven Berghuis's early goal at De Kuip. A result that will ultimately suit both City and Napoli, with points being dropped.

50 minSilva is allowed to run and run and run at the opposition backline, but in the end he neither shoots nor passes. Sane was well placed alongside him but the Spaniard took too long to take his pick, which is unlike him to say the least.

52 minThe game has gone a little sloppy over the last few minutes. Prem leaders City still the side on top, but Napoli surely have a goal in them which, if they can find it, will make things a little more interesting at the Etihad Stadium.

54 minSHOT! Great challenge from Raul Albiol to prevent Gabriel Jesus charging clean through. The ball did find its way to Sane, but he sent his shot flying wide of the target via a deflection, meaning another corner kick for the Citizens.

56 minNAPOLI SUB! Maurizio Sarri was readying Allan to come on when Insigne went down injured. The forward signalled for attention and was immediately taken off, hobbling his way down the tunnel - a blow ahead of that Inter clash.

58 minThe Partenopei have edged the possession count since the restart but they are struggling to create anything. A cross from Hamsik towards the left sailed over the head of Callejon when Stones let his man peel away from him.

60 minThe second half has not been as lively as the first, with City unable to match the attacking heights we witnessed in the opening 45 minutes. No need to go all-out attack, though, as it is Napoli who need to find a goal in the remaining half an hour.

62 minCity step things up and win themselves a corner after Diawara cut out the ball before De Bruyne could make any true contact with it. Reina then took a risk by racing out of his goal and sidestepping Jesus, before blasting the ball straight out of play

64 minCHANCE! We are now into the final 25 minutes of the match and City are still looking comfortable - too comfortable, in fact. One pass too many at the back saw Fernandinho caught out, but Mertens's shot was blocked in front of an empty net by Stones.

66 minThat was unquestionably the best chance of the second half, but Hamsik - not Mertens, as I originally stated - was denied by Stones when he really should have been keeping his composure and tucking away. Silva currently down after a clash of heads.

68 minHysaj came out second best in terms of the visible damage in that clash of heads with Silva, with a chance of shirt possibly likely as he has a cut above the eye. David Silva still receiving treatment, with namesake Bernardo warming-up.

70 minSUBS! David Silva is going to remain on the field for the time being; Sterling instead the man who makes way for Bernardo Silva. Sarri also makes a chance, bringing on Maggio for Hysaj. Twenty minutes left to play at the Etihad.


73 minFrom pretty much nowhere, Napoli win a second penalty of the evening after Fernandinho brought down Faouzi Ghoulam inside the box. Interestingly, Amadou Diawara - previously without a senior goal - stepped up and rolled it past Ederson. Game on!

75 minGOAL DISALLOWED! Gabriel Jesus rounds the keeper and slots hope after being picked out by De Bruyne, but the offside flag correctly went up as he went a little too early. A second City chance - David Silva replaced by Gundogan.

77 minNAPOLI SUB! All of a sudden the mood around the Etihad Stadium is no longer so party-like; Diawara's penalty setting up a nervy finish here. Napoli's second alteration sees Hamsik replaced by summer signing Ounas for the remainder.

79 minYELLOW CARD! Christian Maggio, now wearing the captain's armband, is cautioned for a sliding challenge - the fifth caution of the evening. Mertens with a chance after being played through, but he fired wide rather than chipping Ederson who was well off his lane. De Bruyne denied at the other end.

81 minChances at either end over the past couple of minutes then in a game that looks likely to keep the neutral gripped right until the end. Napoli looking dangerous whenever they get forward now, but Otamendi stood his ground when up against Callejon.

83 minSHOT! Another on-target attempt from the visitors, as Adam Ounas sends a weak attempt down the middle. City break and Sane is denied by Reina from a tight position when charging through on goal. Allan did well to pull out of challenging the German in the box.

85 minMore than a few nervous supporters in the home end now as Napoli push for a leveller. City, so dominant for the first 35 minutes or so of the match, are at risk of throwing away a couple of points the way things are panning out.

87 minMANCHESTER CITY SUB! Guardiola makes his final change, bringing on Danilo for Gabriel Jesus - still no sign of Aguero, then! It was the Brazilian's goal that gave City a two-goal lead, since reduced by Diawara's pen.

89 minSAVE! Substitute Ilkay Gundogan fancies joining the scoring, taking the shot on from inside the box rather than picking out a teammate. Reina kept it out, though he was always favourite to do so as it was hit far too close to him.

90+1 minFive minutes have been added on at the Etihad Stadium, so this one is not over just yet. Napoli not quite throwing the kitchen sink at their opponents just yet, but home fans cannot breathe easily just yet as there is still one goal in it.

90+3 minMan City looking to put the game to bed by scoring a third. They do eventually decide to keep it close to the corner, though, eating up another minute or so. Just 120 seconds of added time left to play; City very nearly over the line.


9.43pmThe referee blows for full time, meaning that Manchester City have 10 wins in a row - three of those coming in the Champions League. Another impressive attacking display from them, though Napoli did well to grow into the game and may well have snatched a leveller late on.

9.45pmThat concludes Sports Mole's live text coverage of events at the Etihad Stadium. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here, while reaction can be found elsewhere on the site over the next hour or so. Thanks for joining!

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Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentis speaks to the crowd on July 29, 2013
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