Napoli got their first European campaign as the Scudetto holders in 33 years off to a flying start, beating Sporting Braga 2-1 in Portugal. However, Rudi Garcia’s men produced another unconvincing display and were lucky to get away with a precious three points at the start of their Group C adventure.

It was all Napoli in the first half. The Italians dominated the game through and through, creating numerous scoring chances but to no avail. It looked like they wouldn’t capitalize on their decent first-half display when Giovanni Di Lorenzo stepped up to the plate to break the deadlock with a banger.

But a halftime lead tucked Napoli into a false sense of security in the second half as they almost relinquished their attacking aspirations as the game progressed. Braga punished their visitors’ lackadaisical approach in the 84th minute, with Bruma’s glancing header leaving Alex Meret hapless on the line. 

Garcia’s men still salvaged three points in the dying moments by a stroke of good luck. Piotr Zielinski launched a desperate low cross into the box, only for Braga defender Sikou Niakate to turn it home and hand Napoli a morale-boosting victory at the iconic Estadio Municipal. 

Napoli (4-3-3)

Alex Meret – 6

Despite spending most of the game as an observer, the Italian goalkeeper kept his nerves to intervene when needed. There was nothing he could do to prevent Braga’s equalizer.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo – 7

The captain produced another dazzling performance. Not only had he scored a vital opener, but his repeated runs down the right flank caused Braga all sorts of problems, especially in the first half. 

Amir Rrahmani – 6.5

Napoli can only hope their first-choice center-back could return to action soon after succumbing to an injury late in the first half. He put on another resilient display before being forced off in pain.

Juan Jesus – 6 

The ex-Inter defender had a solid night but still picked up a cheap yellow card late in the game. There’s a feeling he could’ve done a better job making Bruma’s header more difficult, but he lost his track. 

Mathias Olivera – 7

Guilty of committing a silly foul down the final stretch that penalized him with a yellow, the Uruguayan had an otherwise impressive night in Portugal. He was tireless on the left-hand side, constantly creating depth and getting involved in the build-up.  

Stanislav Lobotka – 7

As always, the Slovakian was the beating heart of Napoli’s midfield, dictating the pace with pinpoint precision and endless work rate in the center of the park. 

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa – 6.5

There were several situations where the Cameroonian could’ve and should’ve done better, yet it takes nothing away from his commanding performance. 

Piotr Zielinski – 7.5

He was everywhere this evening. The Polish midfield dynamo was Napoli’s driving force in the front third. Though he was unlucky to miss the target from a promising position in the second half, Niakate’s own goal after his cross eventually decided the game.

Khivcha Kvaratskhelia – 6

The Georgian winger’s scoring drought continued. But although you won’t see his name on the board, ‘Kvaradona’ showcased flashes of his magic on multiple occasions tonight.

Matteo Politano – 6

Like his companion on the opposite flank, the Italian forward failed to impact the match the proper way but still created a sizeable headache for his markers with fancy footwork and continuous movements on and off the ball.

Victor Osimhen – 7.5

While it’s hard to give a striker a high grade after firing a blank, the Nigerian deserves one for his spirited showing tonight. It’s unfathomable how he failed to get on the scoresheet, considering he had several presentable scoring chances, especially before halftime.

Substitutes

Leo Ostigard – 6.5

The Norwegian did a stellar job after replacing Rrahmani late in the first half.

Elif Elmas – 5.5

If Garcia designed him as an upgrade on Khvicha, he couldn’t have been more wrong. Nothing went the North Macedonian’s way since entering the fray midway through the second half.

Giacomo Raspadori – 5.5

Barring several fouls he managed to draw and a lot of energy he brought in since coming on, the Italian failed to change the dynamics of the game.

Natan – N/A

Giovanni Simeone – N/A

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