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Napoli stays strong in Group B after equalizer at Besiktas

02 November 2016, 16:43

Istanbul — Napoli remained in a good position to advance from its Champions League group following a 1-1 draw at Besiktas on Tuesday that featured two late goals.

Napoli captain Marek Hamsik equalized with a beautiful arching shot from outside the area three minutes after Ricardo Quaresma had put Besiktas ahead with a penalty.

Napoli and Benfica both have seven points in Group B, after Benfica beat Dynamo Kiev 1-0 later Tuesday. The group remains tight with Besiktas on six points. Dynamo is last with one point.

"Falling behind was a tough blow. But we showed our fortitude, which perhaps has been lacking at times this season," Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina said.

"Let's not forget that we're in the Champions League and in a setting like this one it's never easy to play," Reina added of the loud noise level inside the Besiktas Arena. "It's not by chance that they haven't lost at home yet this season. But that's why we dream about becoming footballers: to play in settings like these."

Besiktas, which beat Napoli 3-2 in Italy two weeks ago, has never advanced to the knockout stage, although the Turkish club did reach the quarterfinals of the old European Cup in 1987.

Also read: Juve, Napoli back to basics after dream dates in Europe

Napoli produced twice as many shots as Besiktas — 14-7.

"If you look at the numbers we could have won, but in the end tonight we got a golden point," Hamsik said.

In a well-balanced match, Besiktas' Canada international Atiba Hutchinson hit the outside of the post and Manolo Gabbiadini threatened for Napoli in the first half.

Nikola Maksimovic conceded the penalty for a hand ball on a cross from Vincent Aboubakar. While it appeared the Napoli defender was attempting to take his arm out of the ball's path, it struck his elbow and Quaresma drilled the ensuing spot kick into the back of the net.

Hamsik then collected a layoff from substitute Dries Mertens and curled his shot just past the outstretched glove of goalkeeper Fabri.

It was Hamsik's 102nd goal for Napoli in all competitions, moving him within 13 of Diego Maradona's club record.

Lorenzo Insigne nearly won it for Napoli but his long-range shot sailed wide in added time.

Still, Napoli showed no signs of fatigue following a draining 2-1 loss to Juventus on Saturday.

"Right now we've got to look at the performance, which was great tonight. But the result leaves a bitter taste in our mouths," Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri said. "We controlled the match and risked very little."

There were reports that a Napoli fan was stabbed before the match in an Istanbul metro station after a clash between supporters.

For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page.

- AP

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