Napoli capitalized on early chances to take a 3-0 win in the first leg of the Europa League round of 16 tie with RB Salzburg. Napoli got on the scoresheet in under 10 minutes when Arkadiusz Milik calmly faked and ran past the Salzburg keeper after receiving a clinical cutting pass from Dries Mertens. Although Milik has had a great season in Serie A, this marked his first European goal of the campaign. Fellow Polish international Piotr Zielinski also deserves some plaudits for the goal after beautifully scooping the ball past an opposing defender to find Mertens. Fabian Ruiz doubled the lead in the 17th minute with a powerful left-footed volley from the top of the box past the diving keeper.
The second half got off to a nervy start but Napoli were bailed out numerous times by Alex Meret. An RB Salzburg own goal in the 57th minute proved to be decisive as Napoli take a commanding 3-0 lead heading into the second leg in Austria.
However, despite the scoreline, this wasn’t an easy win by a long shot and if it wasn’t for some impressive goalkeeping by Meret, Napoli could be looking at a 3-2 scoreline heading into the second leg in Austria. Ancelotti echoed this sentiment in an interview after the match when he said “We allowed some dangerous counter-attacks and through runs that at 3-0 we really could’ve avoided. We can be impenetrable when we defend well, but we get too exuberant and try to push forward... I was more concerned by the lack of balance in the final stages”