Napoli earned a 2-1 victory in an enterprising clash against Braga in their Champions League opener at Estadio Municipal.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo opened the scoring in the second minute of first-half stoppage time in a tie where star man Victor Osimhen could have had at least a hat-trick.
His profligacy looked to be costly as Bruma headed home a deserved equaliser in the 84th minute. However, Sikou Niakate’s own goal in the 88th minute saw the Italians scrape to victory despite Pizzi rattling the post in the fifth minute of stoppage time for the hosts.
90+5 | Game over
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Attack was definitely on top in an end-to-end Group C clash with Napoli dominating possession, but it was Braga who fashioned the first chance in the third minute when a rapid counter-attack saw Ricardo Horta’s effort deflect narrowly wide.
The Italian champions should have been ahead in the fourth minute. Jose Fonte gifted the ball to Osimhen on the edge of his own penalty area with only Matheus Magalhaes to beat, but the Braga goalkeeper stood up with a brave save.
Napoli were twice denied by Magalhaes in a matter of seconds inside a frantic yet entertaining opening 10 minutes.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia curled in a teasing free-kick which Osimhen headed down and against the far post, with the Braga goalkeeper diving across to keep out the ball by the smallest of margins.
Magalhaes collided with the woodwork and remained down on the turf injured, but the attack was not over. Kvaratskhelia’s deflected cross looped up for Di Lorenzo to head in the same bottom corner, but the home keeper somehow tipped the effort on to the post and wide.
Alvaro Djalo fired a 20-yard free-kick off target for Braga, while Osimhen continued to be frustrated as the striker headed over before finally beating Magalhaes, only for his thunderous effort to rebound off the crossbar.
At the other end, Abel Ruiz headed just wide before Napoli defender Leo Ostigard, who was an early substitute for the injured Amir Rrahmani, had his heart in his mouth as his last-ditch tackle was poked past goalkeeper Alex Meret, with the ball rolling inches past his own goal.
Napoli were given a penalty in the 33rd minute when Osimhen collided with Niakate, but VAR rightly overturned the decision after the striker created the contact when trying to tuck in a parried Magalhaes save.
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The breakthrough eventually came in stoppage time when Matteo Politano’s centre found Osimhen, who nodded back to Di Lorenzo to brilliantly volley home via the underside of the crossbar.
The second half was just as frenetic, but was void of final-third quality. Osimhen fired wide from long range before a great chance fell to Horta in the 63rd minute.
Braga built from the back before the ball broke to the Portugal international inside the box, but he inexplicably fired wide from 15 yards.
The home side pushed forward in search of an equaliser, but it was Piotr Zielinski at the other end who side-footed wide from six yards in the 72nd minute.
It looked to be a costly miss as Rodrigo Zalazar’s brilliant delivery was guided home by Bruma for a deserved leveller for the home side, before disaster struck four minutes later.
Fonte could only half-clear a dangerous attack, which fell to Zielinski inside the area. He fired a ball across the six-yard area, which Niakate diverted into his own goal.
However, Braga did not relent. Horta curled narrowly over in the 90th minute when a corner broke to him just inside the area before it looked like Pizzi snatched a last-gasp point.
The ball broke to Bruma on the left wing, who drew in two defenders before laying onto Pizzi, who fired a shot from a tight angle at the near post which hit the inside of the woodwork but somehow stayed out as Napoli clung on to the three points.