In the battle to keep up with Arsenal in Group F, the Germans and Italians took part in a bruising contest in Dortmund.
Borussia Dortmund 3 - 1 S.S.C. Napoli
Reus 10' (pen) Insigne 71'
Borussia Dortmund defeated Napoli in what was a no-holds barred battle at the Westfalenstadion.
In what was a fiercely competitive game, neither team held back, and the Italians walked away from the match with four yellow cards while Dortmund also gave as good as they got, with both teams knowing that their Champions League may end up hinging on the result. Sven Bender had to go off twice with a bloody nose following a heavy challenge.
Dortmund opened the scoring after Argentine defender Federico Fernandez held back Robert Lewandowski at a corner, with Marco Reus stepping up to convert the penalty. The big Pole then missed a great chance to double the lead after being played through on goal.
Napoli were also dangerous in a first half that at times was end-to-end, though they missed the clinical threat of star midfielder Marek Hamisk.
In the second half, Dortmund imposed themselves on the game. Henrik Mkhitaryan was looking particularly dangerous in a midfield that threatened everytime they broke. They doubled their lead on the hour mark, as one of these rapid breaks fell to Jakub Blaszczykowski, who slipped it between the onrushing Pepe Reina's legs.
Dortmund fans breathed a sigh of relief as they had the two goal cushion they'd been wanting, but it wouldn't be so easy for the home team.
The Italians found a way back into the match with some sloppy play from a dortmund defence missing both Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic. An attempted pass rebounded off a Napoli challenge, and found its way to Lorenzo Insigne, who slipped the ball under Roman Weidenfeller and in off the far post.
The last few minutes saw the Italians push for the equaliser that would put last season's Champions League finalists into the Europa League. But such pushing led to another counter attack that was converted by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and ensured that both clubs, as well as Arsenal, would go into the last round with a chance of finishing anywhere from first to third.
image: © Dirk_Vorderstraße