Victor Osimhen completed a late double to bring Napoli from behind and salvage a 2-2 draw against Leicester City, who finished the game with 10 men.
Napoli were behind after just nine minutes thanks to Ayoze Perez’s first goal in 15 games in the Europa League Group C opener at the King Power Stadium.
Harvey Barnes set up the opener and looked to have wrapped the three points up for Leicester in the 64th minute, but Osimhen got them back in the game with a beautiful lob over Kasper Schmeichel.
Osimhen then headed home a dramatic equaliser in the 87th minute to maintain Napoli’s unbeaten start to the season, with Wilfred Ndidi shown a second yellow card in stoppage time to compound a disappointing end to the game for Leicester.
After being denied by a brilliant David Ospina save, Barnes teed up Perez to volley home the opening goal in an electric start for Leicester.
But the hosts came under significant pressure late in the first half and after doing well to keep Piotr Zielinski’s deflected effort out, Schmeichel batted away a free header from Hirving Lozano and held a low drive from Fabian Ruiz in quick succession before the break.
Patson Daka had what he thought was his first Leicester goal overturned by the VAR before Barnes latched onto Kelechi Iheanacho’s excellent throughball and drilled a powerful finish across Ospina in the 64th minute.
Osimhen lifted the ball over Jannik Vestergaard and then Schmeichel for a memorable goal five minutes later, and Napoli were rewarded for continuing to push for an equaliser.
Caglar Soyuncu was towered over by Osimhen, who powered a header into the back of the net before rushing to celebrate with the travelling fans.
Leicester were left with a bitter taste as Ndidi received his second booking for a foul on Adam Ounas at the death, meaning he will miss their trip to Legia Warsaw later this month.
What does it mean? All to play for in Group C
You would expect the results between Leicester and Napoli to be key in deciding who tops the group.
Both teams will be hoping to make deep runs in the competition after falling in the round of 32 last season, so it should be another thriller when they meet at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in the final round of fixtures in December.
He may have only had 28 touches – the fewest of any Leicester starter – but Barnes made sure his involvements counted as he ended the game with a goal and an assist.
Osimhen’s persistence pays off
Napoli were wasteful in front of goal for much of the game – Lorenzo Insigne failed to hit the target with any of his five shots – but Osimhen kept plugging away and was rewarded with a second-half brace. He supplied two key passes and would have had an assist to go with his goals had his team-mates shown more composure in front of goal.
Key Opta Facts
– This was the first time Leicester have had a lead of two or more goals in a home match (all competitions) but failed to win since September 2016 against Chelsea. They had won each of their previous 47 such matches before tonight.
– Napoli have never won away against English opposition in all European competition (D3 L8), conceding at least once in all 11 such matches (23 conceded in total).
– With his brace here, Osimhen has been involved in nine goals in his last 10 appearances for Napoli in all competitions (seven goals, two assists).
– No player has scored more goals for Leicester in major European competition than Harvey Barnes (four, level with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez), with all four of his strikes coming in the Europa League over the past two seasons.
– Perez netted his first goal in 15 games for Leicester in all competitions, though this was the first time the Foxes failed to win a game in which he scored (W8 D1).
Leicester face a Premier League trip to Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday, while Napoli are away to Udinese in Serie A the following day.