Marek Hamsik gifted Napoli two of their four away goals in the first leg of their quarter final tie against Vfl Wolfsburg at the Volkswagen Arena as they moved a step closer to the UEFA Europa League final in Warsaw.
The game began with a dubious decision by referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz who did not spot Gonzalo Higuain committing a handball in the build up to his goal.
Despite being an end-to-end match Napoli got their three goals with a Hamsik brace and a Manolo Gabbiadini header before Nicklas Bendtner scored a late consolation goal.
Rafa Benitez will be delighted with the result on his 55th birthday and can now turn his attention to his side’s trip to Cagliari on Sunday where they continue to battle for a European spot with both Fiorentina and Sampdoria.
Dries Mertens produced a telling pass early on into Higuain whose arm made contact with the ball whilst he chested it down and cooly finished.
Just eight minutes later Higuain assisted Hamsik who hit the ball first time to grab his side’s second goal.
The first half saw plenty more chances most notably a header from Naldo and another fantastic Hamsik shot.
However, the best chance came in injury time of the first half when Andre Schurrle’s stunning strike forced Mariano Andujar to palm the ball against the crossbar.
In the second half Napoli capitalised on a defensive error as a Wolfsburg defender passed the ball into the path of Jose Callejon who cut the ball back into Hamsik.
Seconds after coming on in the 77th minute Gabbiadini nodded in a Lorenzo Insigne cross three minutes before Bendtner grabbed a consolation goal from an Ivan Perisic pass.
Gabbiadini then nearly grabbed a fifth goal for his side as he struck the crossbar with his left foot from outside the box.