Napoli didn't look their best at the Westfalenstadion and fell 3-1 to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday. Considering the number of chances that Dortmund had on goal and the multitude of excellent saves made by Pepe Reina, the final score could have easily ended up being much worse.
If Rafa Benitez's plan was to sit back, burn off the first 10 to 20 minutes and take the crowd out of the match, while waiting for a chance to catch Dortmund on the counter, it didn't work.
Things went south quickly in the 9th minute when Federico Fernández, for reasons known only to Federico, wrapped up Robert Lewandowski in the box and drew the referees ire picking up a yellow card and giving Dortmund a penalty. Marco Reus stepped up and drove a hard shot past Pepe Reina and Dortmund were flying.
Five minutes later Lewandowski missed a brilliant chance to double the lead after he drove in alone against Reina on a skillfully delivered pass from Henrikh Mkhitarayan. Despite the open goal, Lewandowski's shot sailed high and wide.
Napoli finally settled as the match passed the 20 minutes mark and generated a couple good chances as well. Goran Pandev unleashed a shot from outside the area and Gonzalo Higuain got a free header away from the center of the Dortmund box but in both cases Roman Weidenfeller was up to the task.
The best chance though came in the 29th when José Callejón made a run into the Dortmund area from the right. Callejón froze Sven Bender with a simple step over move, going around the fill-in defender and firing a shot that beat Weidenfeller but hammered off the far post.
Dortmund answered back but this time it was Reina's chance to shine. In the 33rd minute Reina denied Mkhitaryan, parrying away his rising shot from 25-yards out for a corner kick. Two minutes later Lewandoswki again got free in on Reina but the Napoli keeper closed down quickly and blocked the Polish strikers shot.
Dortmund piled on the pressure early in the second half but just they simply couldn't take advantage. Lewandowski was against guilty of missing a point blank chance and Marco Reus wasted an excellent opportunity as well, sending a shot wide of the far post.
Napoli continued to play with the fire and finally got burned right at the hour mark.
Dortmund's lethally quick counter attack struck as Marco Reus was set loose down the left wing and found Jakub Błaszczykowski all alone on the edge of the Napoli box with a cross field pass. Luba calmly waited for Reina to commit before sliding a low shot past the keeper to extend the lead to 2-0 with 30 minutes to play.
Napoli pounced on a poor giveaway on the midfield by Sebastian Kehl, allowing Napoli to quickly break back quickly against an unorganized defense. Weidenfeller's decision to come way off his line to try and close down Lorenzo Insigne was a second mistake as he opened up an angle that the young striker didn't waste. Insigne's shot beat the keeper and hit in off the inside off the far post to pull Napoli back within a goal at 2-1.
Reina was again huge in the 74th after Dortmund picked apart Napoli on the break.
Substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang broke in free one on one with the Napoli keeper and Reina stood tall and stonewalled the young striker. It appeared that Aubameyang has the pace and room to go around Reina but he instead tried to slot the ball by him, to no avail.
Four minutes later Aubameyang got a second chance and didn't miss, chipping a shot over Reina from a tough angle. The play started when Napoli have the ball away near midfield, allowing Lewandowski to lead the break. Aubameyang's ridiculous pace played a huge part as he raced past Lewandowski, giving the striker a target for a short pass that allowed the Frenchman to get free in the box.
Napoli's final group stage match against Arsenal now becomes massively important with Napoli and Dortmund tied on nine points and BVB holding the tiebreaker (teams are even on head-to-head, away goals in matches between the two sides in the second tiebreaker) for the moment. Dortmund will face Marseille in France on the final day.
Napoli: Reina, Maggio, Fernández, Armero, Albiol, Dzemaili (Inler 62'), Behrami, Callejón (Insigne 66'), Mertens, Pandev (Zapata 76'), Higuaín.
Goals: Insigne (71')
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller, Durm, Papastathopoulos, Kehl, Grosskreutz, Şahin, Bender, Błaszczykowski,(Aubameyang 69'), Mkhitaryan, Reus (Piszczek 81'), Lewandowski (Schieber 89')
Goals: Reus (10'), Błaszczykowski (60'), Aubameyang (78')