The Napoli players celebrate the win over Villarreal; photo: Yahoo!

Goran Pandev and Napoli reach knockout stage

The Napoli players celebrate the win over Villarreal; photo: Yahoo!Goran Pandev made a late substitute appearance for Napoli who recorded a 2:0 road victory over Villarreal to advance to the Champions League Round of 16.

Attacker Goran Pandev will join fellow Macedonian Ivan Trickovski of APOEL in the knockout stages of the Champions League.  In today’s Villarreal vs. Napoli game, Pandev started on the bench for the visitors before he entered the game in the 82nd minute replacing Edinson Cavani.  The Napoli manager decided to go back to the attacking trio of Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi, and Marek Hamsik for this important game despite Pandev’s good recent form.  Goran did not do much during his brief time on the pitch as Napoli seemed content with the score and just defended their lead during the final ten minutes of the game.  Napoli actually struggled in the 1st half and was playing tense after the break but they ultimately managed to score two goals in the 65th and 77th minute to record the 2:0 road victory over Spanish side Villarreal.

Napoli controlled its own destiny going into this game and managed to eliminate Manchester City from the Champions League with the win over Villarreal.  Napoli finished in second place of Group A with 11 points so the Italian club will join leaders Bayern München in advancing to the knockout stages of the Champions League.  Third placed Manchester City will now settle for the Europa League while Villarreal is eliminated from both competitions by finishing in last place without a point in six games.

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