By 90Min
March 07, 2019

Napoli made themselves clear favourites to progress to the quarter finals of the Europa League after they steamed past Salzburg in the first leg of their last 16 encounter, winning 3-0 at Stadio San Paolo.

Striker Arkadiusz Milik gave the Serie A side a flying start as he rounded Salzburg goalkeeper Alexander Walke before finishing into an open net after being put in on goal by a tremendous pass from Dries Mertens. 

Francesco Pecoraro/GettyImages

Fabian Ruiz soon doubled Napoli's lead in the game, as the Spaniard controlled a left footed volley from outside the box to put Carlo Ancelotti's side into a commanding position, with Salzburg looking out of sorts and vulnerable to seemingly non-stop attacks from the Italian club.

Salzburg's chances of recovering the tie became even slimmer in the second half, as defender Jerome Onguene capped off a horrendous display by stooping low to header Mario Ruiz's superb cross into the roof of his own net.

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The scoreline gives Napoli one foot into the next stage of the competition, as Salzburg face a huge uphill battle to pull off a historic comeback.

Check out 90min's breakdown of the game below...


Napoli


Key Talking Point

With Napoli looking highly unlikely to lift the Serie A title, with Juventus 16 points clear at the top of the division, the Europa League is hugely important for manager Carlo Ancelotti if he is to turn a disappointing campaign into a relatively successful one.

Francesco Pecoraro/GettyImages

The Italian would have been delighted by how quickly his team were able to put themselves in the driving seat in the tie, with two early goals ripping apart the Salzburg game plan and making their trip to Austria in a week's time look like a formality.

However, he may be unhappy with his side's sloppiness in possession, as Salzburg looked capable of grabbing an away goal during the match as a result of several unforced errors, despite the Austrian team looking hugely unimpressive and uninspired.


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Meret (7), Hysaj (6), Maksimovic (3), Koulibaly (10), Mario Rui (7), Allan (8), Fabian (7), Callejon (7), Zielinski (6), Mertens (6), Milik (7).


Substitutes: Diawara (6), Insigne (6), Ounas (5).


STAR MAN - Kalidou Koulibaly was imperious at the back for Napoli. The Senegalese centre back is a defensive powerhouse who looked impossible to beat, never panicking and always maintaining a cool head to dispossess onrushing Salzburg players.

ISABELLA BONOTTO/GettyImages

With centre back partner Nikola Maksimovic looking less than convincing during the game, it is mainly down to Koulibaly that Napoli were so assured at the back and maintained a crucial clean sheet heading into the return leg.


Salzburg


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Walke (5), Ulmer (4), Onguene (2), Silva (6), Lainer (4), Junuzovic (5), Samassekou (4), Wolf (6), Schlager (5), Daka (5), Dabbur (4)


Substitutes: Gulbrandsen (6), Mwepu (4), Minamino (5)


Looking Ahead


Before the return leg in Austria, Napoli face a tough looking away trip to Sassuolo in Serie A on Sunday.

Salzburg will continue their charge for the Austrian Bundesliga title on Sunday, as they take on Sturm Graz at home.

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