Insigne stunner helps Napoli beat Shakhtar 3-0 in CL

November 21, 2017

Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne, right, and Shakhtar's Marlos go for the ball during the Champions League Group stage group F soccer match between Napoli and Shakhtar Donetsk at the Naples San Paolo stadium, Italy, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. (Ciro Fusco/ANSA via AP)

NAPLES, Italy (AP) — Lorenzo Insigne showed again what Italy missed in its World Cup playoff as he scored a stunning goal to help Napoli beat Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 and keep alive its chances of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages on Tuesday.

Piotr Zielinski and Dries Mertens netted late as Napoli moved three points behind second-place Shakhtar with one match remaining in Group F.

Manchester City secured top spot by beating Feyenoord 1-0.

Napoli will qualify for the round of 16, courtesy of a better head-to-head record over Shakhtar, if it wins at Feyenoord in the final round and Shakhtar loses to City.

“We believe. You saw tonight that we want the three points at all costs,” Insigne said. “We know it doesn’t only depend on us, but what matters is that we get the result in our match and hope City beats Shakhtar. We have to do our job.”

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura, who was fired last week, was roundly criticized after using Insigne for just 15 minutes of the two-leg playoff against Sweden — and out of position. Italy lost 1-0 and failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years.

Insigne has been at the heart of most of Napoli’s goals this season. He scored the winner against AC Milan on Saturday in Serie A to help Napoli maintain top spot.

Tuesday’s match was Insigne’s 58th consecutive start for Napoli in all competitions as coach Maurizio Sarri believes the 26-year-old is as important to the team as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar are for Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, respectively.

“I thank Sarri for his nice words about me,” Insigne said. “Since the first day he has always put his faith in me. I will never stop putting myself at his disposal to try to repay him with performances, goals and assists.”

After a scoreless first half, Napoli appeared more determined after the break and Insigne broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion in the 56th minute. He ran down the left before cutting inside and curling into the top right corner from 30 yards.

Piotr Zielinski doubled Napoli’s tally nine minutes from fulltime, playing a delightful one-two with Mertens inside the area before blasting into the roof of the net.

Mertens got on the scoresheet himself two minutes later. Goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov parried Raul Albiol’s header from Jose Callejon’s corner, but Mertens was waiting at the post to head in from point-blank range.

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