NAPLES, Italy: Union Berlin’s David Fofana scored a second-half equalizer against the run of play to snatch a 1-1 Champions League draw in Naples on Wednesday and end a 12-game losing streak, but that did not was not enough to keep the German. The team’s knockout hopes are alive.
Matteo Politano gave the Italians a deserved lead in the 39th minute after a one-sided first half before Fofana equalized at the break seven minutes after the restart with the Germans’ first big chance from open play.
The draw leaves Napoli in second place in Group C with seven points, two behind leaders Real Madrid who face Braga, with three points, later on Wednesday.
“This is the match we had prepared for,” said man of the match Politano. “We simply shouldn’t have conceded that equalizer.”
“We should have won, we had chances and the match was good. We must continue like this and approach the next two matches with the same spirit.”
Union, who had lost their last 12 matches in all competitions, including all of their previous group matches in their first Champions League appearance, are in last position with one point.
They can no longer reach the round of 16 but can still finish third and qualify for the Europa League.
“It feels really good,” Union Capt. Christopher Trimmel said. “The longer a losing streak goes on, the more your confidence evaporates. That’s what we felt.”
“I hope this performance gives us some energy for the coming weeks, but I know football well and I know we have to keep working hard.”
The Germans were behind from the start and goalkeeper Frederik Ronnow made a good save to stop a shot from Piotr Zielinski in the 17th minute.
The hosts came close again in the 25th when Natan’s header hit the woodwork, then thought their dominance had finally paid off when Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa’s header found the net.
His effort, however, was disallowed for an earlier foul following a lengthy VAR review, with Napoli having 70% possession in the first half.
They managed to break the deadlock before halftime when a deflected shot bounced off Politano’s chest and into the goal.
Union hit the post thanks to Josip Juranovic’s free kick in first-half stoppage time, then caught Napoli napping seven minutes after the restart with a quick break as Fofana scored the rebound to stun the home crowd.
Napoli were awarded 18 corners to the Germans’ five, but despite late pressure and a string of chances, they failed to score again.