Napoli heaped yet more misery on Rangers’ luckless European campaign on Wednesday night, as Giovanni Simeone’s double and a late Leo Ostigard header secured a convincing 3-0 victory in the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Napoli manager Luciano Spalletti was adamant there was no chance of his side underestimating Rangers pre-match, in spite of a 7-1 defeat by Liverpool in their last Group A outing, but their ruthless performance told a different story.
The Italians, top of Serie A and leaders of Group A, demonstrated exactly why they are dominating on both domestic and European fronts with a display that blew the winless Scots away within 16 first-half minutes.
Simeone’s quick-fire double had Napoli cruising, before Ostigard powered a header beyond a helpless Allan McGregor from a pinpoint Giacomo Raspadori corner.
With a perfect set of results, ahead of a showdown with Liverpool next week, Napoli have become the first Italian side to win their opening five games of a Champions League campaign since Juventus achieved the same feat in 2004-05. They’ve also set a new club record of 12 consecutive wins in all competitions.
The Gers, contrastingly, have lost all five of their Group A games, conceding 19 in the process. They still have a slim chance of claiming a Europa League spot, at the expense of Ajax, but would need to better the 4-0 scoreline from their reverse fixture with the Dutch when the two sides meet in Glasgow on November 1.
How Napoli outclassed Rangers
Last season’s Europa League finalists will be out of Europe altogether barring an improbable thrashing of Ajax in their concluding game at Ibrox in six days’ time.
Napoli, unbeaten in 16 games this season, were straight out of the blocks, scoring twice in the opening 16 minutes.
There were just 11 minutes on the clock when Giovanni Di Lorenzo sent the impressive Simeone down the right flank and despite the attention of defender Leon King, he fired emphatically past McGregor and in at the far post.
Four minutes later, Simeone headed home a cross from Mario Rui with defenders King and Ben Davies helpless either side.
The visitors rallied in the second period, restoring some beleaguered pride, before Ostigard rose to power Raspadori’s corner in at the back post, adding the gloss to a routine home win.
Tavernier: ‘Easy’ goals cost us
Captain James Tavernier told BT Sport:
“We are disappointed to lose the game. I felt we can take some positives from that compared to the other games we have played in the group.
“We let two easy goals in in the first half and I felt we had two good, big chances that could have levelled the game.
“We have to take the positives from the game and build on that. They took their chances but that is the level we are playing at and we have to learn from that.”
Rangers are back in Scottish Premiership action on Saturday when they travel to Aberdeen; kick-off 3pm. Their final Champions League group stage fixture on Tuesday November 1 will see them welcome Ajax to Ibrox.
Napoli host Sassuolo in Serie A on Saturday before a trip to Liverpool on Tuesday in their final Champions League group-stage fixture.