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Dnipro v Napoli: Benitez eyeing third Europa League final

Rafael Benitez needs at least one Napoli goal against Dnipro on Thursday to keep his hopes of a third UEFA Europa League victory alive.

The Spanish coach has won the competition on two occasions – with Valencia and Chelsea – and would move level with Giovanni Trapattoni with three titles if Napoli can win the final in Warsaw on May 27.

Napoli make the trip to Ukraine still smarting from Yevhen Seleznyov’s late equaliser in the semi-final first leg last week – a goal the Serie A outfit believe should have been ruled out for offside.

That away goal means Benitez’s side must score if they are to reach their first European final since 1989, when Diego Maradona inspired them to UEFA Cup glory over Stuttgart.

Ugly scenes marred the end of Napoli’s 2-2 draw with Parma on Sunday, with Benitez facing a one-game touchline ban domestically and star striker Gonzalo Higuain hit with a €10,000 fine for allegedly using insulting language.

Napoli have only won once in their last four games in all competitions, a streak shared by Dnipro, who surprisingly lost at home to Zorya at the weekend.

That 2-0 defeat saw them drop out of the top two in the Ukrainian Premier League, but head coach Myron Markevych hopes it does not have a negative effect on their Europa League form.

“I have spoken to the team I am reassured [that it won’t]. I hope that there will be a different situation [against Napoli],” he said.

Dnipro have injury concerns over Evgeniy Shakhov ahead of the last four clash, but Seleznyov is confident the squad are ready to cause another shock.

“It would mean a lot [to reach the final] – a victory would increase out prestige [across Europe],” the forward told UEFA.com

“Nobody backed us, it’s surprised everyone we’ve come this far.

“All of us understand what we’re playing for. This club is unique. We’ve been playing together for a while now and we’ve always had great team spirit.

“We will do everything possible to win against Napoli.”


Tue 12 May, 2015
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