Vllaznia 0-3 Napoli: Pià and Denis Lead the Azzurri into Europe (UEFA Cup Preliminary Round)

Three out of three for Italian teams in Europe. After Fiorentina (2-0 vs. Slavia Prague) and Juventus (4-0 vs. Artmedia Bratislava), Napoli also put their next round UEFA Cup qualification on ice, as they travelled to Albania and defeated Vllaznia with a score of 3-0. Main man of the night: Brazilian striker Inacio Pià, who despite not being the preferred choice of coach Edy Reja (Ezequiel Lavezzi was with the Olympic team and Marcelo Zalayeta was injured) scored a beautiful double on Thursday night.

In two weeks’ time, the Neapolitans will rendez-vous with history at Stadio San Paolo, as they attempt to return to the UEFA Cup 14 years since their last appearance.

(From Gazzetta): So indeed, with El Pocho out to Beijing and El Panterón in the infirmary, super-sub striker Pià was given the responsibility to put the ball in the net. And so he did and quite well too, forming a good scoring partnership with last year’s Argentine league topscorer, German Denis (still trying to find his mark in Naples, but on a good road to progression with his goal today). It’s no coincidence that Pià’s been a main protagonist in Napoli’s pre-season so far (scoring 2 goals against Eubelbach and 1 against Zte), because his explosive pace was just what the doctor ordered to overcome the Vllaznia defenses (very far from the Serie A standard, mind you).

The first half ended with a score of 1-0 Napoli, but the Azzurri’s lead could have been far more severe. After the match opener (minute 28: forward push by Christian Maggio on the right wing, deflected cross and volleyed effort by Pià), the Brazilian striker squandered at least two other scoring chances, all the while the Napoli defense easily controlled the proceedings. The only “scares” for the Azzurri supporters were a missed intervention by goalkeeper Iezzo, and a Sukai header off target.

Just after the restart, Napoli made it two. Through on goal, Pià (once again) delivered a beautiful chipped shot over the keeper, leaving him no chance and increasing his team’s lead. With two away goals, it became clear that Napoli had virtually clinched their qualification, but opposing striker Sukai had other ideas. Indeed, his left-footed effort through a wall of Napoli legs almost surprised Iezzo, who was skilled however at parrying the shot.

Then, as Vllaznia appealed for a penalty for a Rinaudo foul on Lici (referee booked the player for diving instead), Napoli made it 3-0 about 15 minutes from the end. De Zerbi delivered a perfect assist for Denis, who despite being closed down by two defenders, managed to fire a one-time effort to beat the Albanian keeper for the third time. 3-0 Napoli FT, and Serie A teams with a great beginning in Europe…


KS Vllaznia Shkodër
[Match Highlights]
 S.S.C. Napoli
GOALSCORERS: 28’, 46’ Pià (N), 75’ Denis (N)
VLLAZNIA (4-4-1-1): Bishani – Beqiri, Bashic, Tell, Belisha (46’ Lici) – Smajlai (64’ Bohadu), Nalbani, Osja (83’ Hoti), Lika – Sukai – Kali. (bench: Grimaj, Sinani, Hoti, Doci, Shtubina). Coach: Canaj.
NAPOLI (3-5-2): Iezzo – P.Cannavaro, Rinaudo, Contini – Maggio, Pazienza, Blasi, Hamsik (80’ Montervino), Vitale (73’ Grava) – Pià (69’ De Zerbi), Denis. (bench: Gianello, Santacroce, Amodio, Bruno). Coach: Reja.


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Posted in Napoli, UEFA Cup |

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  • 3 Responses to “Vllaznia 0-3 Napoli: Pià and Denis Lead the Azzurri into Europe (UEFA Cup Preliminary Round)”

    1. Joe Ginto says:

      It really was a match dominated by Napoli…to be fair though all three Italian sides have had fairly easy draws. I know Slavia Prague are no mugs but they don’t have the class of the Viola. We played against the Albanian champions… enough said.

      Pia has been loaned out the past two years to Treviso and Catania and didn’t impress in either place. He seemed to have to camp with a chip on his shoulder and determined to make the squad. He sealed his place with Napoli based off this result, I think. I’m happy we’ve all pretty much secured our place in Europe. Now we need to freaking dominate and take control!

    2. Joe, do you think Pià will see playing time after Lavezzi and Zalayeta become available again? It’ll be pretty hard to keep Denis on the bench, since he’s got last year’s “Apertura topscorer” title in his resumé…

    3. Joe Ginto says:

      Reja will play Lavezzi and Denis up top in his starting XI almost exclusively. The only wrinkle to that will be if they decide to rest Ezequiel when he returns from the Olympics (or there’s an injury). Given that Zalayeta is recovering from major knee surgery, I see Pia becoming the first striker option off the bench for the near future. Reja tends to fall in love with players and stick with them for better or worse. Given all the comments he’s had about Pia (even before his brace), it appears he’s got a crush on him for the time being. I also think he’ll play Pia and Denis together, meaning he’ll sub for El Pocho, as opposed to having two smaller players up top as Pia had the reputation of getting pushed around given his sleight frame.

      Of course I think that spells bad news for Roberto De Zerbi who now will most likely get loaned out (again).