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June 23, 2021

Europa League: Cavani catapults Napoli past stunned Steaua

Edinson Cavani once again proved the scourge of FC Steaua Bucharest as his 93rd-minute winner sent SSC Napoli through to the UEFA Europa League round of 32 at their visitors’ expense.

The game looked up for the Partenopei, needing victory to steal second in Group K, when Cavani’s shot came back off the upright with seven minutes remaining. Yet the striker who struck in the eighth minute of added time as Napoli came from 3-0 down in the reverse fixture repeated the feat here, rising at the near post to head in from a corner. Even Paolo Cannavaro’s subsequent dismissal could not temper their joy.
Steaua have therefore not beaten Italian opposition in 13 attempts but none can hurt more than this. Marius Lacatus’s side ended the game as they had started it: on the defensive.

An ebullient Edinson Cavani hailed SSC Napoli’s never-say-die attitude as the Partenopei carried Italy’s UEFA Europa League ambitions into the new year with a stunning last-gasp victory against Steaua.

For the first 92 minutes at the Stadio San Paolo it was Romanian visitors Steaua who held second spot in Group K. Cavani, though, had other ideas as he got ahead of his marker and glanced Jose Sosa’s corner through a wall of bodies and into the net.

“I’m very happy,” the shy 23-year-old said quoted by uefa.com when asked to describe his feelings – an inability to suppress a beaming smile was more telling. “Steaua gave us little room. It was a difficult battle right until the end. Thank God: we dared to dream. “We knew how hard it was going to be but we never lost faith and fought right until the end”.”

On his turn Romanian coach Marius Lacatus talked about the “bad luck” of his team: “We can say that it was bad luck, just like in the first game (3-3 in Bucharest – o.n.) they scored in the extra-time. But we lost qualification in this game, the rest is history. We missed the European spring but I want to congratulate my players for the effort and their attitude. We played quite well in Europa League, of course it could be better, but all in all I think we left a good impression”

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