Napoli didn't really have much of anything to play for in their last Europa League group stage match of the season, with first place in the group locked up long before Polish side Legia Warsaw came to town. The players didn't let that drop their focus, though, and came out big winners, taking Legia down 5-2 in a barnstorming attacking performance that set a record along the way.
Despite the emphatic scoreline, the match itself wasn't actually all that interesting to watch. Even playing a B team, Napoli severely outclassed Legia Warsaw, and that was quickly apparent. Legia were certainly willing to fight, to push Napoli in an attempt to get something out of the match -- but before long, it was obvious that they just weren't going to be able to keep up.
Napoli were passing circles around Legia, and that helped lead to, well, all five goals. The first was perhaps the best, and a landmark as well -- it was the first goal for Nathaniel Chalobah in a Napoli shirt, and a well-taken one at that. It came as the result of a well-placed pass from David Lopez that Omar El Kaddouri put into position for Chalobah to run onto with a cheeky backheel. Chalobah's run itself was gorgeous, waiting until Michal Pazdan committed before turning on the jets and taking the ball for himself to hammer it home off the crossbar.
Nice stuff, kid. Between this match -- which was impressive even without his goal and later assist -- and his good game against Club Brugge a couple weeks ago, Chalobah has definitely earned more playing time.
After that, it was all downhill for Legia, and all sunshine and rainbows for Napoli. Lorenzo Insigne scored on a sloppy defensive backpass to see the half end 2-0, and Dries Mertens exploded in the second half, setting up Jose Callejon's goal before scoring a brace for himself.
That fifth and final goal was a monumental one for Napoli. Not only did their staggering total of 22 goals in the group stage lead all of Europe for the round -- including the Champions League! -- they set a new Europa League record, one previously held by Red Bull Salzburg when they scored 21 goals just last year. That's almost four goals per match in the group stage, a jaw-dropping scoring rate.
Napoli's defensive record for the group stage was also impressive, giving up just three goals over those six matches. They were one of several teams in the Europa and Champions Leagues to give up that few, though Paris Saint-Germain bettered them all, somehow giving up just one goal in the group stage. Napoli would have met that mark if not for the two goals they gave up in this match -- both of which had questions of offside, so... who knows.
Still. Job done. Record set. Next challenge up. Well done, Napoli.
Napoli: Gabriel; Maggio, Chiriches (Luperto 79'), Koulibaly (Albiol 68'), Strinic; Lopez, Valdifiori, Chalobah; El Kaddouri, Insigne (55'), Mertens
Goals: Chalobah (32'), Insigne (39'), Callejon (57'), Mertens (65', 90'+1)
Legia Warsaw: Kuciak; Bereszynski, Lewcuk, Pazdan, Broz; Duda (Trickovski 71'), Jodlowiec, Vranjes; Kucharczyk (Dyego 80'), Nikolic (Prijovic 60'), Guilherme
Goals: Vranjes (62'), Prijovic (90'+2)