Napoli knock Leicester out of Europa League

 Adam Ounas
Napoli's Adam Ounas scores their first goal. Photo: Reuters/Ciro De Luca

Napoli earned a thrilling 3-2 home win over Leicester City on Thursday to reach the Europa League knockout stages as Group C runners-up behind Spartak Moscow.

Spartak won 1-0 at Legia Warsaw to secure an automatic last-16 berth while Napoli face a play-off against one of the third-placed teams in the Champions League dropping into Europe's second-tier competition after the winter break.

Third-placed Leicester go into the third-tier Europa Conference League where they will enter a play-off with one of the competition's runners-up for a last-16 berth.

Adam Ounas fired Napoli into a fourth-minute lead with a crisp low shot and the Serie A side appeared to be in cruise control after Eljif Elmas made it 2-0 with a tap-in after unselfish work from Andrea Petagna.

Sloppy defending cost the home twice in quick succession before half-time, however, as Jonny Evans drilled in a loose ball in the 27th minute and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall volleyed in the equaliser with his first goal for Leicester.

North Macedonia playmaker Elmas put Napoli back in front shortly after the break, taking a tame-looking cross past a static defence before he steered the ball past goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

Legia Warsaw
Legia Warsaw's Mateusz Wieteska in action against Spartak Moscow. Photo: Reuters/Kacper Pempel

Spartak, who edged Napoli to top spot with a superior head-to-head record, advanced after their goalkeeper Alexander Selikhov saved a stoppage-time penalty with forward Zelimkhan Bakaev netting a 17th-minute winner at Legia.

Bakaev curled in a fine low shot from the edge of the penalty area but it was Selikhov who emerged as Spartak's hero, parrying Tomas Pekhart's spot-kick which would have knocked the Russian side out had the Czech forward scored.

Real Sociedad also booked a playoff berth as they finished runners-up in Group B thanks to a 3-0 home win over PSV Eindhoven which took the Spanish side above the 1988 European Cup winners.

Mikel Oyarzabal fired Sociedad ahead with a 43rd-minute penalty and added the second before Alexander Soerloth netted in stoppage time to complete a comfortable victory.

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.