Evening all! Sports Mole
's live Champions League
coverage continues from Naples as Serie A leaders Napoli
welcome Premier League leaders Manchester City
in Group F. City will qualify for the round of 16 if they avoid defeat tonight, but Napoli have a lot of work to do if they are to make it out of this section. Stay tuned for what should be a cracking game of football from Stadio San Paolo.
It is just over two weeks since these two teams locked horns in Manchester, and it was City that collected all three points courtesy of a 2-1 win. Napoli missed a penalty in that fixture, however, and did cause a lot of problems in forward positions. It is six years since Napoli and City last met in Naples, with the Italian side recording a 2-1 win during the 2011-12 campaign.
Right, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from Naples. Both teams were in league action at the weekend – Napoli beating Sassuolo on home soil, and City winning 3-2 at West Bromwich Albion. Any changes? Let's run through the two XIs for this one...
NAPOLI: Reina; Hysaj, Koulibaly, Albiol, Ghoulam; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejon, Mertens, Insigne
CITY: Ederson; Danilo, Stones, Otamendi, Delph; Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Gundogan; Sane, Sterling; Aguero
No real surprises in the Napoli XI tonight, with Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne starting as the front three once again. Marek Hamsik will provide the support from a deep position, while Jorginho, who is again being linked with Arsenal, starts in midfield alongside Allan. Powerful centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly is back in the team after being rested in Serie A at the weekend.
City boss Pep Guardiola has made four changes to the team that started against West Brom in the league at the weekend. Danilo replaces Kyle Walker in defence, while Ilkay Gundogan, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero
come in for David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus. Aguero needs just one more goal to become City's all-time record goalscorer. Will that arrive tonight?
So there we have it. The two teams are in, and we are now just about 40 minutes from kickoff in Naples. I shall speak about the home side a little bit later, but let's start with City, who have made a flying start to the 2017-18 campaign. Pep Guardiola seems to have finally made his mark, and the Citizens are a team that look capable of enjoying a very, very successful season.
City will enter this match off the back of a 13-game winning run in all competitions. A total of 28 points from 10 Premier League matches has left them five points clear of second-placed Manchester United in their domestic table, while they have also reached the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup. Their eighth straight league win came at the weekend as they recorded a 3-2 victory away to West Brom.
Guardiola's side have scored an incredible 35 goals in their 10 Premier League matches this season, and have plenty of players contributing with Raheem Sterling (7), Leroy Sane (6), Sergio Aguero (7) and Gabriel Jesus (6) firing City to the top of the table. Man United have also made a strong start, but the Red Devils have been unable to match City's form thus far.
As mentioned, City will enter tonight's match top of Group F on nine points. They opened their Champions League group-stage campaign with a 4-0 win at Feyenoord, before beating Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 and Napoli 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium. Tonight is their toughest match thus far, but a point would be enough to secure qualification for the round of 16 with two matches to spare.
City actually did not win away in last season's competition, and they have only been victorious in two of their last eight European away matches. What's more, the Citizens have only won one of their last eight meetings with Italian opposition, which suggests that tonight will be a very tricky match.
As for Napoli, Maurizio Sarri's team will enter this match off the back of 3-1 win over Sassuolo in Serie A at the weekend. A total of 31 points from 11 matches has left them top of the Italian division – two points clear of the champions Juventus. Since losing at City on October 17, Napoli have drawn with Inter Milan, and beaten both Genoa and Sassuolo in Serie A.
Napoli opened their Group F campaign with a 2-1 defeat away to Shakhtar, before recording a 3-1 win over Feyenoord in Naples. The defeat at City last time out has left them third in the group on three points – three points behind second-placed Shakhtar, and six behind the leaders City.
Napoli have actually only lost two of their last 23 European home fixtures – the last of which came against Real Madrid in last season's round of 16. The Partenopei have also won four of their five home games with Premier League clubs, with their most recent success over English competition coming against Swansea City in the 2013-14 Europa League group stage. Kickoff is fast approaching here!
KICKOFF! Man City will kick things off in Naples...
... it must be said that there is a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium tonight. Will the match live up to the setting? Just a reminder that a point would be enough for City to book their spot in the round of 16. Napoli, on the other hand, really need to win. It should be a cracking game here.
Sterling finds Sane inside the Napoli box, but the German drives into traffic, and Napoli can make the clearance. City have already shown their ability to move the ball quickly in the final third.
Bit of possession for Napoli in the last couple of minutes as they look to take the sting out of City's movement. You do get the feeling that the first goal tonight - if there indeed is one - could be vital.
Sterling has just broken into the Napoli box, but the England international left the ball behind. City have already been able to find space inside the home team's penalty box. A fast start to his one.
Ederson is on hand to keep out a powerful strike from Napoli skipper Hamsik.
It must be said that the first nine minutes of this football match have flown past. Napoli win a free kick in a dangerous area as Otamendi fells Hamsik, but Mertens fires into the away side's wall.
Hamsik hits another one from distance, but his effort is over the crossbar. Still goalless, but it has been a brilliant start to this match, with both teams showing confidence in possession of the ball.
City continue to play their way out from the back, but a mistake from Ederson raises the home supporters, who are driving their team forward. City are coming under fire at the moment.
Bit of possession from City in the last couple of minutes, but Napoli are pressing very high, and you sense that the Serie A leaders fancy their chances of going punch for punch here. Mertens picks up possession inside the City box, but his effort is straight into the arms of Ederson here.
Ederson is down to keep out Mertens from a wide angle.
Still goalless with 16 minutes on the clock, but it has been a very watchable game, with both teams enjoying good moments in the final third of the field. Sterling in particular has been excellent for City - it has been some turnaround for the England international this season.
Napoli continue to pass and probe in the final third of the field, but they are finding it difficult to work a shooting chance, with City defending their lines. This match continues to tick on here.
Mertens finally gets the pass he has been calling for - behind. However, the Belgian is flagged offside. It was close, but the correct decision. We are still waiting for the first clear chance of this match, but there has been plenty of half-chances. Still goalless with 21 minutes on the clock here.
GOAL! Napoli 1-0 Man City (Insigne)
Napoli make the breakthrough in the 21st minute as Insigne plays a one-two with Mertens before finding the back of the net with a super finish. What a wonderful goal from the Italian side!
The atmosphere inside this stadium is just sensational as Napoli continue to move the ball in the final third of the field. The Italian outfit look capable of scoring every time that they break forward.
City are finding it really difficult to put a string of passes together at the moment as Napoli continue to press high up the field. You do get the feeling that the next goal - if there indeed is one - could be vital. Can City afford to concede a second and turn things around? I am not sure.
Little over 15 minutes of the first period remaining, and City are not too sure at the back here. Delph struggles to deal with a deep cross, but just about gets away with it. Mertens continues to hold his hamstring here, and that would be a major blow for Napoli if he had to leave the field.
Big blow for Napoli here as Ghoulam signals to the bench that he cannot continue.
NAPOLI SUB! Eventually Maggio replaces Ghoulam for Napoli.
Mertens continues to hold his hamstring here, and if there is a problem, he will not be able to run it off. Napoli just need to be careful here as City start to enjoy more and more of the possession.
CLOSE! City come close to levelling as Aguero finds space inside the Napoli box before striking towards goal, but the ball hits Albiol and drops just wide of the post!
GOAL! Napoli 1-1 Man City (Otamendi)
City level the scores in the 34th minute as Otamendi heads a deep Sane cross into the bottom corner. It is a wonderful header from the Argentine, who rose highest inside the Napoli box.
It must be said that this has been a wonderful game of football. Just a reminder that a point would be enough for City to book their spot in the round of 16 tonight. Napoli, however, really need to win. City are in charge at the moment as they continue to move the ball in the final third of the field.
Little over five minutes of the first period remaining, and it is a very even game at the moment as both teams enjoy periods in possession of the ball. In truth, 1-1 is just about right for what we have seen in the opening 40 minutes. There are more goals in this one though - I am sure of it.
CROSSBAR! Stones heads against the crossbar for City! Moments before, Otamendi had somehow failed to convert at the far post. Two massive changes for the away side here!
Napoli just cannot keep hold of the ball at the moment as City continue to dominate.
Sterling is barged to the ground inside the Napoli box, but the referee is not interested. It would have been harsh. Napoli really need the half-time break here as the visitors continue to dominate.
City are ending the first half very much on the front foot here.
We are into the first of two additional minutes at the end of the first period. Finally Napoli are having some of the ball, but City do not look too concerned in a defensive area at the moment.
HALF-TIME: Napoli 1-1 Man City
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with the two teams level at 1-1. Napoli took the lead in the 21st minute courtesy of a wonderful goal from Insigne, but City levelled in the 34th minute through Otamendi. City finished the first half very much on the front foot here.
STATISTICS! City just about shaded the first-half possession with 52%, while the visitors managed an incredible 12 attempts in the first 45 minutes, although just one of those was on target - the goal. Napoli, meanwhile, hit the target with four of their seven attempts in the first period in Naples.
BENCH WATCH! Napoli have already been forced into a change tonight - Maggio replacing the injured Ghoulam, which seemed to upset the home side. Diawara, Ounas and Zielinski, however, all remain available ahead of the second period. City, meanwhile, have the likes of Jesus, Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Yaya Toure in reserve. There is some brilliant talent on both benches tonight.
RESTART! Napoli resume the action here...
... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that both managers will have alterations in mind as the second period develops here. Mertens is back out there, although he is still not moving that well at all.
CHANCE! Super chance for City as Sterling dances into the Napoli box before looking for the finish, but Albiol is on hand to make a wonderful block! Sterling is on fire tonight.
GOAL! Napoli 1-2 Man City (Stones)
Incredible. Man City take the lead in the 48th minute as Stones rises highest inside the Napoli box to score a header. The ball bounced off the crossbar and dropped over the line!
Napoli are in a very difficult position in the group as things stand. City are absolutely full of it as they continue to move the ball in the final third of the field. Otamendi and Stones on the scoresheet!
Callejon drives towards the City box before looking to find Mertens, but the ball is too strong. It is much better from the home side, but they are finding it difficult to really break through here.
Mertens looks to dance through the City defence, but Stones is on hand to make the challenge. Napoli are very much on the front foot at the moment as the crowd drive their team forward.
Little over 30 minutes of football remaining here, and I would be surprised if we had seen the last of the goals. Napoli really cannot afford to lose this match if they want to continue in the Champions League. The atmosphere inside the stadium is absolutely wonderful at the moment.
CROSSBAR! Insigne rattles the crossbar with a powerful strike from distance!
We are entering the stage of the match where both managers will be considering alterations. Something has to give if Napoli are to turn things around in the final 30 minutes of this match.
Napoli have a penalty as Albiol is felled by Sane inside the Man City box!
GOAL! Napoli 2-2 Man City (Jorginho, pen)
Jorginho finds the bottom corner to level the scores here!
This has been a wonderful game of football. A spectacular show in Naples tonight.
We are entering the stage of the match where both managers will be considering changes. Both managers have serious talent behind them. I fancy more goals in the final 20 minutes of this one.
Aguero finds space inside the Napoli box after a mistake from Hamsik, but the Argentine had just moved into an offside position. We stay locked at 2-2 with 69 minutes on the clock here.
SAVE! Stunning save from Ederson as the City goalkeeper keeps out Callejon!
GOAL! Napoli 2-3 Man City (Aguero)
That is the record for Aguero! The Argentine is Man City's all-time leading goalscorer after finding the back of the net following a stunning counter-attack. What a moment for Aguero here!
MAN CITY SUB! David Silva replaces Gundogan for the away side.
Little over 15 minutes of football remaining here, and Napoli have possession of the ball as they look to turn things around in the latter stages. Still a lot of football to be played in Naples.
NAPOLI SUB! Rog replaces Allan in Napoli's second change of the night.
CITY SUB! Bernardo Silva replaces Aguero for the visitors.
Not an awful lot to report in terms of chances in the last few moments, but Napoli are in control of the ball as they continue to pass and probe in the final third. Surely there is another goal in this one.
The home supporters are doing their best to drive their team forward, but the visitors are also looking extremely dangerous. Do not rule out a fourth goal for City in the latter stages here.
Sane strikes a free kick over the Napoli crossbar from outside the penalty box.
NAPOLI SUB! Ounas replaces Jorginho in Napoli's final change here.
City are almost there as they close on a spot in the last-16 stage of the Champions League with two games to spare. Napoli, on the other hand, are staying third in the group as things stand.
City are off on the counter-attack once again, with Sane causing problems in a central area. Sane and Sterling have both been terrific for the visitors tonight it must be said. Still 3-2 here.
Smart save from Reina to keep out Bernardo Silva as we enter the final moments of this one.
CITY SUB! Jesus replaces Sane in the away side's final change.
We are into the first of four additional minutes at the end of the 90 here.
BOOKING! Otamendi (City) is booked for chopping Ounas to the deck.
GOAL! Napoli 2-4 Man City (Sterling)
Man City make it four as Sterling is allowed far too much space inside the Napoli box, and the England international finishes into the far corner of the net. That is game, set and match.
BOOKING! Mertens (Napoli) is booked for a foul on Sterling.
FULL-TIME: Napoli 2-4 Man City
So there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close with City booking their spot in the last-16 stage of the Champions League courtesy of a 4-2 win at Napoli. What a result for the visitors. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for our live coverage once again. Until next time!