Belfast Telegraph

Stones thrilled with City's battling quality as bright start sinks Napoli

Man City 2 Napoli 1

By Andy Hampson

John Stones believes Manchester City came through a "tough test" after grinding out a 2-1 victory over Napoli to maintain their 100% start in this season's Champions League.

City stormed out of the traps with goals from Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus inside the opening 13 minutes but Napoli wasted a gilt-edged chance to halve the deficit when Dries Mertens' penalty was saved by Ederson just before half-time.

The Brazilian goalkeeper was a towering presence in the City goal, and the only time his net was breached was through Amadou Diawara's 73rd-minute spot-kick. City, though, never really looked in danger of failing to secure their third win in Group F and defender Stones was pleased by several aspects of their performance.

He said: "We've put ourselves in a good position, there's a lot of games to play still. I say it all the time but we've got to keep going game by game.

"I think tonight was a great test to see where we were really at after a good run of hard games. We knew it was going to be a tough test.

"We wanted to play our game and I think some of the football out from the back right the way through to the guys up top was, at times, great to watch for me personally.

"We're a bit upset to concede the goal that we did. I thought it was a bit soft but overall a great team performance.

"Every game is hard. We want to keep improving, keep scoring goals, keep clean sheets and hopefully we can progress in the group."

Pep Guardiola's men arguably should have put the game beyond reach in the opening half-hour as Kevin de Bruyne also hit the bar and Jesus was denied a second on the line.

Their first goal came after Leroy Sane opened up the Napoli defence and Sterling turned in a low shot after Kyle Walker's initial effort was blocked.

De Bruyne continued his rich vein of form by creating the second just moments later, seizing on a loose ball and delivering a now typically perfect pass into the path of Jesus.

The Brazilian made no mistake from close range.

City had Ederson to thank for preserving their lead.

The Brazilian first did well under pressure from Jose Calleron to claim a dipping cross from Lorenzo Insigne.

He then beat away Mertens' spot-kick after Walker was adjudged to have felled Raul Albiol, and also dealt with a long-range shot from the Belgian.

Napoli continued to make their presence felt after the break and they were awarded a second penalty when Fernandinho brought down Faouzi Ghoulam.

Diawara grabbed the ball this time and placed a fine shot into the bottom corner.

City went close again as Napoli goalkeeper Jose Reina saved a De Bruyne free-kick and a Sane shot, but the hosts were relieved to hear the final whistle.

Man  City: Ederson, Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Delph, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva (Gundogan, 76 mins), Sterling (B Silva, 70 mins), Jesus (Danilo, 87 mins), Sane.

Unused subs: Bravo, Aguero, Mangala, Toure.

Napoli: Reina, Hysaj (Maggio, 70 mins), Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam, Zielinski, Diawara, Hamsik (Ounas, 78 mins), Callejon, Mertens, Insigne (Allan, 56 mins). Unused subs: Sepe, Jorginho, Maksimovic, Rog.

Man of the Match: Kevin de Bruyne

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz (Spain)

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