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Europe: Champions League
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Union Berlin
G. Raspadori (65)

Gutsy Union undone by Napoli as Raspadori makes the difference

By Ultan Corcoran   @UltanCorcoran

Coming into tonight’s encounter on the back of eight consecutive defeats in all competitions, Union Berlin were hopeful of a turn in fortunes against Italian champions Napoli. Despite yet another fearsome effort and gallant support, Die Eisernen would succumb to a 1-0 defeat.
Urs Fischer.
Urs Fischer.
Union started brightly through the hard-working Janik Haberer. Meanwhile, some early pressure from Kvarashkelia left Trimmel in yellow card territory. Union had the ball in Napoli’s net on 24 minutes, but referee Irfan Peljto immediately overturned the goal. Datro Fofana was rightly judged to be in an offside position in the buildup.

Fofana would be denied by Meret after a swift 36th minute counterattack down the right flank. The Ivorian’s strike was powerful however the Napoli goalkeeper was an equal match. The Italian visitors appeared slightly toothless throughout the half. Victor Osimhen’s absence through injury appeared to be a significant loss.

Macedonian international Elmas entered upon the restart for the visitors. His lively introduction along with Kvarashkelia drew further yellow cards for Gosens and Haberer. But the majestic Georgian could only be silenced for so long – he sauntered inside Trimmel to find Raspadori who fired home for a 1-0 lead with 25 minutes to play.

Urs Fischer thrusted his bench into the action as the final minutes approached. Kevin Volland and Lucas Tousart replaced Haberer and Doekhi. Napoli also introduced former Frankfurt man Jesper Lindstrom. In the end, nothing would materialise in front of goal for the Kopenick club. Their third Champions League group defeat leaves aspirations hanging by a thread.

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