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CL: Napoli fire blanks in Genk

Napoli paid the price for wasteful finishing, as they hit the woodwork three times and had Kalidou Koulibaly’s shot cleared off the line in a 0-0 with Genk.

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The Partenopei surprisingly dropped Dries Mertens and sent Lorenzo Insigne and Faouzi Ghoulam to the stands, for a new front pairing of Chucky Lozano and Arkadiusz Milik. Nikola Maksimovic and Elseid Hysaj were injured. Neto Borges, Danny Vukovic and striker Dieumerci Ndongala were ruled out, but improvements were expected after a 6-2 opening defeat to RB Salzburg.

Napoli had a huge double opportunity on 15 minutes, as Jose Callejon fired on to the back post from close range, the move continued and Milik managed to prod it towards goal while on the ground, only to clip the crossbar.

Genk threatened when a corner came to Patrik Hrosovsky, his shot from the edge of the box deflected just wide.

Milik hit the crossbar again on 25 minutes, but this time he should’ve done far better, as everyone had missed the cross from the right and allowed him a free header from six yards.

Napoli lost Mario Rui to a left thigh problem, making way for Kevin Malcuit, and Alex Meret needed a save on Ally Samatta’s header from a corner.

Kalidou Koulibaly thought he’d scored against his former club with a control and volley on a corner, but it was cleared off the line by Hrosovsky, then the move continued and Milik turned yet another free header over the bar.

Bongonda blasted wide from 30 metres out, but Meret had to fly for a difficult save on Sander Berge’s deflected effort after Allan gave the ball away cheaply.

Callejon missed a big opportunity after the restart, firing wide from eight yards, just before Mertens replaced Eljif Elmas.

Lozano made barely any impact, other than a shot that smacked Cuesta on the jaw and felled him. Fernando Llorente was the final gamble from the bench to get a goal, but Fabian Ruiz had to rugby tackle Ito in the centre-circle to avoid a dangerous counter-attack.

Former Fiorentina youth player Ianis Hagi wasted a golden opportunity for Genk on 84 minutes, as he fired wide from 12 yards after Allan lost his footing.

Genk 0-0 Napoli

Genk: Coucke; Maehle, Cuesta, Lucimi, Uronen; Berge, Hrosovsky, Bongonda (Paintsil 89), Hagi (Heynen 91), Ito; Samatta

Napoli: Meret; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Mario Rui (Malcuit 34); Callejon, Allan, Elmas (Mertens 58), Fabian Ruiz; Lozano, Milik (Llorente 72)

Ref: Kovacs (ROU)

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