Europa League: Swansea draw 0-0 with Napoli in first leg of round of 32
By Rob Parrish - Follow me on Twitter @skysportsrobp. Last Updated: 21/02/14 11:00am
Swansea earned a hugely creditable 0-0 home draw with Serie A side Napoli in the first leg of their Europa League round of 32 contest at the Liberty Stadium.
Rookie Swans boss Garry Monk was up against UEFA Champions League winner Rafa Benitez, with the Welsh side comfortably the better side on the night, but unable to make the most of the chances they created.
Napoli, who dropped into the Europa League after finishing behind Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal in the Champions League despite claiming 12 points from their group stage campaign, will be favourites to progress with the second leg on home turf, but were fortunate to depart with a clean sheet.
Napoli carved out the first chance with only five minutes gone and Michel Vorm was called upon to produce arguably the best stop of the half, plunging away to his left to push a stinging low shot from Marek Hamsik wide of the target.
Swansea were a whisker away from taking the lead with only six minutes gone as Nathan Dyer's curling first-time effort from the edge of the area was clawed away by visiting goalkeeper Rafael.
And the shot-stopper, who was preferred in the starting XI to Pepe Reina, was kept busy as he had to push away Wayne Routledge's dangerous cross before watching two well-struck shots by Wilfried Bony go narrowly wide.
Bony had a glorious chance to put his side ahead in the 22nd minute as Pablo Hernandez's delightful pass split the Napoli defence open, but Rafael was swiftly off his line to produce an excellent, but unorthodox, sprawling save as the ball struck him in the face.
Monk's men continued to press forward, with Ben Davies' dangerous cross fisted away by the busy Rafael before a weak attempted clearance presented possession to Jose Canas on the edge of the box but he could only volley over the crossbar.
Six minutes from the interval another chance went begging, a short corner routine catching Napoli napping with Hernandez's cross to the back post headed over the bar by Ashley Williams, with the centre-back left holding his head in his hands.
There was still time for Rafael to be called into action again before the break, reaching to get his finger-tips to a rising Routledge shot and then pushing Angel Rangel's header from the resulting corner over the top.
Rafael's game was brought to a premature conclusion at half-time by injury, with Reina sent on in his place, and the former Liverpool man had a quieter start than his team-mate, with Hernandez's quick feet taking him into the box only for Henrique to block his 55th minute effort.
Williams was called upon to produce an excellent tackle to deny Hamsik after the Napoli man had combined well with Jose Callejon to get in behind the Swansea defence on the right of the box.
The duo combined again in the 63rd minute to create another opportunity, but Callejon could only toe-poke his shot wide after neatly nut-megging Davies on the edge of the area.
Williams had his head in his hands again in the 67th minute after meeting Jonathan de Guzman's excellent free-kick to the far post with a firm header which was parried away by Reina.
Another opportunity was carved out by Swansea in the 76th minute, but again Reina was equal to Routledge's curling shot as he dived to his left to fist away, with the chance created by the returning Jonjo Shelvey after stepping off the bench as the game ended goalless.
|Swansea City||Team Statistics||Napoli|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|8||Shots on Target||1|
|10||Shots off Target||6|
|68.1||1st Half Poss.||31.9|
|72.2||2nd Half Poss.||27.8|
Thu 20th Feb - Round of 32
A Mak'kala0 - 0Genk
Dynamo Kiev0 - 2Valencia
PAOK S'nika0 - 1Benfica
C'morets0 - 0Lyon
S Liberec0 - 1AZ Alkmaar
Dnipro1 - 0Tottenham
Juventus2 - 0Trabzonspor
Esbjerg1 - 3Fiorentina
Ajax0 - 3Salzburg
FC Porto2 - 2Frankfurt
Mac Tel Avi0 - 0Basel
Maribor2 - 2Sevilla
Plzen1 - 1Shak Donetsk
Real Betis1 - 1Rubin
Lazio0 - 1Ludogorets
Swansea0 - 0Napoli
Europa League Group A
Europa League Group B
Europa League Group C
Europa League Group D
|1||Red Bull Salzburg||6||16|
|4||FC Astra Giurgiu||6||4|
Europa League Group E
Europa League Group F
Europa League Group G
Europa League Group H
Europa League Group I
|2||BSC Young Boys Bern||6||12|
|4||SK Slovan Bratislava||6||0|
Europa League Group J
|3||FC Steaua Bucuresti||6||7|
Europa League Group K
Europa League Group L
Europa League round of 32 2014
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- Monk proud after Swansea exit
- Lyon knock out Chornomorets
- Anzhi too strong for Genk
- Valencia edge past Dynamo Kiev
- Benfica pick off 10-man PAOK
- Juventus topple Trabzonspor
- Stunning Spurs oust Dnipro
- Sevilla survive Maribor scare
- Sevilla, Betis set up derby
- Lazio dumped by out Ludogorets
- Porto prevail in Frankfurt
- Basel ease past Maccabi
- Solid Salzburg sail past Ajax
- Spirited Swansea bow to Napoli
- Betis ease to Rubin victory
- Defoe ruled out of Dnipro tie
- Monk salutes Swansea display
- Frankfurt draw with Porto
- Shakhtar held at Plzen
- Yann the man for brave Basle
- Rubin hit back to stun Betis
- Maribor stay in Sevilla tie
- Ajax shocked by super Salzburg
- Sherwood: Pitch was a disgrace
- Valencia too strong for Kiev