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» Champions League round-up: Napoli beat nine-man Nice 2-0 in first leg to take control of tie
Champions League round-up: Napoli beat nine-man Nice 2-0 in first leg to take control of tie
NAPOLI took charge of their Champions League play-off against nine-man Nice on a steamy night in southern Italy.
Belgium striker Dries Mertens was their hero, firing the Italian team ahead against the big-spending French side then winning a second-half penalty.
Nice were without injured star Mario Balotelli and Dutch legend Wesley Sneijder, who
joined them last week
but is still not match fit.
Mertens broke the deadlock when he beat Nice goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale to a 13th-minute through-ball and fired home from a tight angle.
The Italians dominated the first half, which got underway with the temperature close to 30 degrees, but could not find a second goal.
But with 20 minutes left of the game,
Arsenal target Jorginho
made it 2-0 from the spot.
The penalty was awarded after Christophe Jallet crudely brought down Mertens, although the challenge seemed to be outside the box.
Things got worse for Nice when Vincent Koziello was sent off for a heavy foul on Piotr Zielinski – and Alassane Plea then received a second yellow card for protesting.
Nice are trying to get into the group stage having not appeared in Europe’s elite tournament since 1960.
Arsenal old boys Emmanuel Adebayor and Gael Clichy could not prevent Turkish side Basaksehir Istanbul – in the Champions League for the first time – losing at home to Sevilla.
The Spanish team, who are looking to reach the group stage for the third year running, took the lead when left-back Sergio Escudero drilled low into the corner from just inside the box.
Amid heavy rain, Eljero Elia equalised for the Turkish side, firing home after a great run.
But French striker Ben Yedder flicked home a cross by ex-Manchester City winger Jesus Navas to put the La Liga side in the driving seat.
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