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Union Berlin take first Champions League point from Napoli

Union Berlin players celebrate after scoring against Napoli. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Union Berlin claimed their first ever point in the Champions League on Wednesday after escaping against Napoli with a 1-1 draw on a day of fan tensions in southern Italy.

Urs Fischer’s team snapped a 12-match losing streak thanks to David Fofana’s 52nd-minute rebound finish, his first goal for Union since arriving on loan from Chelsea. The goal secured a hard-fought draw against the Italian champions.

Union stay bottom of Group C, six points behind second-placed Napoli and are unlikely to reach the last 16 but cheered the rowdy fans who packed the away end at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona after clashes with police and home supporters in the lead-up to the match.

“We’ll take a very important point, but we can’t rest on our laurels,”  Union defender Leonardo Bonucci told Sky Sport in Italy.

“We conceded a really unfortunate goal… it kind of summed up what we’ve been going through. But we reacted really well as a team.

“We knew we could hit them on the break as Napoli play very open and we were rewarded.”

Napoli would have taken a big step towards the knockout stage with a win and looked set to do just that when Matteo Politano diverted home the hosts’ 39th-minute opener.

Instead, Rudi Garcia’s side are two points behind leaders Real Madrid, who can qualify from the group with a home win over Braga later on Wednesday.

Napoli, who dominated the match but struggled to create against a well-drilled Union defence, are still in a strong position to qualify as they are four points ahead of Braga. 

But the draw was greeted more like a defeat, especially for the way Napoli were caught wide open on the break for Fofana’s leveller, scored after Alex Meret pushed away Sheraldo Becker’s powerful effort on goal.

Napoli next travel to Madrid and now face a nervier time trying to get out of the group with Braga coming to Naples in their final group match.

“We should have managed our lead better. We weren’t in position, so we were caught by the counter-attack,” said captain Giovanni Di Lorenzo to Sky.

“We have to take the draw but it’s a shame as I think we definitely deserved the win. But qualification is still on.”

Wednesday’s match was preceded by supporter disorder in Naples as police arrested 11 Germans after around 300 Union ultras rampaged through the centre of Naples on Tuesday in similar scenes to when Eintracht Frankfurt fans ran amok in the city in March.

Tensions continued in the run-up to and during the match, with scuffles outside the stadium and Napoli fans pelting fireworks at the away end throughout the first half of a match which ended with the Union faction celebrating a historic point.

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