Napoli trailed after half an hour in their Champions League match against Dynamo Kyiv in Ukraine, but two goals late in the first half by Arkadiusz Milik and a stronger second-half performance saw them win 2-1 and stand atop their group at the end of the day.
While Napoli tried to get a bright start to the match, it was Dynamo who actually had the first dangerous chance of the match less than a minute in. A long range shot 40 seconds in caught Pepe Reina well off his line, and the Spanish keeper only just barely scrambled back in time to tip the ball over the bar.
Napoli survived that danger, though, and looked to get out on the front foot to get an early goal of their own. They struggled to break down Kyiv’s defense, though, facing two compact banks of four and five players every time they tried to push ahead. Some sloppiness and miscommunication in Napoli’s attack didn’t help much, especially with Dries Mertens struggling to consistently connect with Arkadiusz Milik and Jose Callejon.
Those attacking struggles were thrown into sharp contrast in the 26th minute with Andriy Yarmolenko, who had enjoyed too much early success for Dynamo, managed to slip Faouzi Ghoulam with ease before crossing the ball to Denys Garmash, who in turn made Raul Albiol look like a fool as he slipped him and finished easily to give Dynamo a 1-0 lead.
That seemed to throw Napoli for a look for awhile, who struggled mightily for several minutes after conceding, nearly giving up another goal before they steadied themselves. That momentum changed suddenly when Ghoulam got racing forward and launched up a gorgeous cross, which Milik rose over two defenders to meet and nod home for an equalizing goal.
Ten minutes later, it was Milik again, this time cleaning up some chaos in front of goal after a shot from Mertens was cleared off the line. The headed clearance stayed high, and Milik was able to read it and nod it to the far post away from the goalkeeper to give Napoli the lead at the stroke of halftime.
The second half stayed a close affair, with both teams holding the advantage of momentum at times but Napoli looking the better team on a whole. The half lacked for clear scoring chances, however, except for a shot that Mertens should have slammed home that was instead slammed off the outside of the post, despite that being the far less likely outcome in the moment.
Still, Napoli’s defense held firm, and despite some late nerves from a sloppy foul from Albiol, they won the match and all three points. Better, a late equalizer from Besiktas against Benfica in Portugal means that Napoli are on top of their group after the first match day. That’s not a bad start at all.
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik (Zielinski 61’); Callejon, Mertens (Insigne 73’), Milik (Gabbiadini 82’)
Goals: Milik (36’, 45’+1)
Dynamo Kyiv: Shovkovskiy; Antunes, Khacheridi, Vida, Makarenko; Rybalka (Korzun 81’); Yarmolenko, Sydorchuk (red 68’), Garmash, Tsygankov (Gusev 73’); Júnior Moraes (Gladkiy 86’)
Goals: Garmash (26’)