NAPLES, Italy, October 26 (Reuters) – Napoli cruised to a 3-0 win over Rangers in the Champions League on Wednesday to set a club record of 12 consecutive wins in all competitions.
Argentina striker Giovanni Simeone scored twice in the first half to put Napoli in charge at the Stadio Diego Maradona while Norway defender Leo Ostigard extended the lead with a hard-hitting header from a corner in the 80th minute.
The result saw Napoli, leaders of Serie A surpass their longest winning streak dating back to 1986, when Argentina big Maradona was their talisman.
Napoli, who had already qualified for the knockout stage, lead Group A with 15 points from five matches, three ahead of second-placed Liverpool, who they visit next week in their final group game.
Napoli will finish first in the group if they avoid defeat at Anfield by three or more goals.
Rangers, who have already been eliminated, are bottom without points and will be missed on the Europa League unless they beat third-placed Ajax Amsterdam with three points by at least five goals when they host the Dutch side, beaten 3-0 at home against Liverpool.
NOTApoli coach Luciano Spalletti has praised his side after overseeing another win despite six changes to the side that beat AS Roma 1-0 in Serie A on Sunday.
“What’s extraordinary is that when you don’t use a player for two games, he gets a little angry and loses a little bit of sharpness but this group doesn’t do that. They train like football players. top level and confirm that they want to fight for their place.”
Spalletti said he expected a thrilling final game against Liverpool despite both sides already progressing to the last 16.
“There’s a lot at stake in the next game because Liverpool are very tough at home. The show is guaranteed,” he added.
Striker Simeone, son of Atletico Madrid coach Diego, was one of the beneficiaries of Spalletti’s team rotation and opened the score in the 11th minute by running behind the defense and sneaking into the far corner of the net.
He hit again in the 16th with a header while midfielder Tanguy Ndombele nearly added a third midway through the first half with a venomous shot from outside the box that rattled the crossbar.
Napoli lowered their intensity in the second half but still increased their lead through Ostigard’s header, ensuring they replicated the 3-0 scoreline from their previous game with Rangers at Ibrox in September.
It was the team’s 20th goal in five Champions League appearances, more than any other team in this season’s competition.
(Reporting by Richard Martin; editing by Clare Fallon and Ken Ferris)
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