If you weren't watching the Champions League match between FC Bayern and Napoli, well, I feel sorry for you -- even if you are a fan of the partenopei. Mario Gomez managed a hat-trick in less than 45 minutes, but Federico Fernandez, in his first Champions League match, scored two headed goals to give Napoli a respectable end result of 3-2. The loss did cause the Italians to slide down into third place in Group A, while Bayern Munich stay top, but the end results are far from decided.
Uber-Mario did have a fantastic match, with his first goal a quite pretty one: Bastian Schweinsteiger sent in the pass, Gomez did a quick turn to avoid a Napoli defender, sending the ball to his left foot before firing off the shot. Just five minutes later, Gomez bagged another, off a fast break from the home side. With the forward kept onside by a downright idiotic azzurri defense, he was easily able to get his shot past goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis.
The third goal came minutes before the halftime whistle. Napoli had been able to avoid both a goal from Franck Ribery and another shot from Gomez, but the backline were just too poor to keep Gomez's third from hitting the back of the net. Is there really any wonder that the partenopei support were relieved, rather than upset, when Andrea Dossena came on to replace an injured Salvatore Aronica?
Fernandez provided hope for the visitors, however, with his goal just before the break. The young defender got his head on the end of an Ezequiel Lavezzi corner to put his team back in the match. Moments later, a shot from Marek Hamsik went just wide of the post, reminding everyone that Napoli weren't giving up just yet.
After the halftime whistle, Bayern Munich supporters experienced a nasty shock, as star Schweinsteiger writhed in agony on the pitch, clutching his shoulder. He was removed in the 53rd minute, replaced by Anatoliy Tymoshchuk. The midfielder was taken to hospital, with later reports confirming a broken collarbone and an absence of 4-6 weeks.
With Schweini out, the Bavarians lost a bit of their spark, and the game became relatively chippy. Fouls flew through the air, but it was Camilo Zuniga that made the biggest mistake: just one minute after seeing yellow for a foul on Ribery, the winger went after him again, catching the back of his leg and being rewarded with a yellow card. But Napoli were down a man less than seven minutes, as Holger Badstuber picked up his second yellow for a foul on Edinson Cavani.
The second azzurri goal came a couple minutes later, resulting from yet more poor defending from Bayern on a set piece. Fernandez's second goal was nearly identical to his first, and set up a frantic final fifteen minutes of the match. Alas, no matter how many balls the visitors fired toward Manuel Neuer's goal, they couldn't pull off the dramatic comeback win they'd become so famous for last season...but they had one more last ditch-effort.
For the final, dramatic end to what turned out the be a thrilling match, De Sanctis came out of goal to assist on a corner. Unfortunately for Napoli, Bayern pounced, and Mario Gomez sent in a shot from distance. As it rolled, seemingly in slow motion, Holy Goalkeeper came tearing up the pitch, sliding in to knock the ball safely around the post. A fitting end to a compelling match.
Group A Standings:
Bayern Munich -- 10 Points
Manchester City -- 7 Points
Napoli -- 5 Points
Villarreal -- 0 Points
Next up: Napoli v Manchester City, Bayern Munich v Villarreal