Napoli 5-0 Vllaznia – Party Time at San Paolo, Azzurri Qualify for the UEFA Cup

14 years. Believe or not, that’s how long Napoli supporters had to wait before seeing their team in Europe again. As the French would say, c’est maintenant chose faite (it’s a done deal): after a whopping win over an invisible Vllaznia, the Azzurri have qualified for the UEFA Cup And what better way to celebrate at San Paolo, than to crush your opponents with five unanswered goals?

This almost seems like a “come-back year” doesn’t it? Juventus are back in the UCL after 2 years of purgatory, Fiorentina have been absent for even longer (8 yrs), and now Napoli, returning to European Cup competitions after 14 long seasons. Life seems to be smiling on Serie A clubs lately, let’s hope it lasts.

Of course now, all Neapolitan eyes will be turned towards Monaco, where the next round draw will take place on Friday. The good thing for Reja, is that his team will avoid “home” clashes with AC Milan, Udinese, or Sampdoria. However since Napoli are not seeded, there’s a very real risk of facing teams like Benfica, Sevilla, Valencia, Ajax, or Tottenham.

Fingers crossed…

(From Gazzetta): Returning to Europe playing, in essence, a training match feels good doesn’t it? Yes, because “training match” is exactly the right term to define Napoli’s fixture vs. Vllaznia on Thursday: you can slap as many “UEFA Cup preliminary round” tags on it, it still doesn’t change the fact the match ended with five goals for the home team (much to the delight of the Stadio San Paolo crowd) and could have actually been far worse for the visitors.

Truthfully, the 3-0 away win of August 14 had already placed Napoli in a very comfy spot for this one, but Edy Reja’s boys were determined to provide their supporters with some entertainment. And the main provider of said entertainment was, much to everyone’s surprise, center-back Leandro Rinaudo. Two goals (the first and the third of his team) stemming from set-pieces, cooly finished with an instep shot. A la striker.

Speaking of strikers, the biggest expectations really came from Marcelo Zalayeta, back to his first starting role since his serious Winter knee injury. El Panterón certainly had a point to prove tonight after so many months on the sidelines, and animated the Napoli attack with great determination (alongside Inacio Pià). Zalayeta’s short-range accuracy was still deficient however, much to the contrary of his Brazilian counter-part (scorer of the 2-0 goal).

And while we’re on the subject of strikers, one must make a necessary reference to the “Napoli Argentine club”, Ezequiel Lavezzi in particular. El Pocho was, alongside Rinaudo, the main protagonist of tonight and this despite not even starting the game. His entrance in minute 70 litterally resulted in an explosion of joy for the crowd, which grew even greater after his 4-0 tally (too “easy” almost, after yet another Vllaznia defensive mistake).

To cap up a productive evening, Marek Hamsik put his signature on goal nº5, another easy tap-in well set-up by German Denis. A triumphant 5-0, to say the least. Let’s see now if Reja’s boys can repeat their performance for their Serie A opener, this Sunday against Roma.


[Match Highlights]
KS Vllaznia Shkodër
GOALSCORERS: 41’, 53’ Rinaudo (N), 52’ Pià (N), 79’ Lavezzi (N), 88’ Hamsik (N)
NAPOLI (3-5-2): Gianello – Santacroce, P.Cannavaro, Rinaudo – Montervino, Pazienza, Gargano, Dalla Bona (62’ Hamsik), Grava – Zalayeta (76’ Denis), Pià (68’ Lavezzi). (bench: Iezzo, Bruno, Blasi, Maggio). Coach: Reja.
VLLAZNIA (4-4-2): Grimaj – Beqiri, Smajlaj, Bashiq, Lici – Osja, Belisha (85’ Hoti), Doci, Bohadu (84’ Kaci) – Sinani, Nallbani. (bench: Ndoja, Rrabostha, Shtubina, Mohammed, Balaj). Coach: Canaj.


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Posted in Napoli, UEFA Cup |

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