Europa League - Quarter-Final - 1st Leg
WolfsburgVfL Wolfsburg1NapoliNapoli4

VfL Wolfsburg 1-4 Napoli

By Jonathan JurejkoBBC Sport
Rafael Benitez
Rafael Benitez won the 2004 Uefa Cup with Valencia, the 2005 Champions League with Liverpool and the 2013 Europa League with Chelsea

Rafael Benitez celebrated his 55th birthday by watching his Napoli side thrash hosts Wolfsburg in their Europa League quarter-final first leg.

Gonzalo Higuain's half-volley, two crisp finishes from Marek Hamsik and Manolo Gabbiadini's header put the Italians on the verge of the last four.

Elsewhere, holders Sevilla came back to win 2-1 at home to Zenit St Petersburg.

Fiorentina claimed a late 1-1 draw at Dynamo Kiev, while Club Brugge and Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk ended goalless.

Benitez has previously won the competition with Chelsea and Valencia and, with this season's victors qualifying for the Champions League, may need to lift the trophy again if Napoli are to reach Europe's leading club competition next season.

Napoli, fourth in Serie A and seven points adrift of Champions League qualification, led when Argentina striker Higuain cushioned a long ball - with Wolfsburg claiming he used his hand - to prod in the opener.

The German side are second behind Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and started the tie having lost just one home match all season - against Everton in November.

But their hopes of reaching a first major European semi-final diminished when Higuain turned provider, dropping deep to pick out the run of Hamsik who slid in a first-time shot.

Slovakia midfielder Hamsik swept in again from close range after the break, then substitute Gabbiadini netted with his first touch.

Former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner tapped in, but it mattered little as Wolfsburg, the tournament favourites before this game, face elimination.

Spanish side Sevilla take a slender advantage to Zenit St Petersburg thanks to on-loan Barcelona midfielder Denis Suarez's stunning late volley.

The Russian side, coached by ex-Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas, led when Aleksandr Ryazantsev smashed in from a narrow angle, but saw their advantage wiped out by two home substitutes.

Top scorer Carlos Bacca headed in from three yards before ex-Manchester City youngster Suarez hit the second as Sevilla boosted their hopes of winning the competition back-to-back for the second time in eight seasons.

Ukrainian team Dynamo Kiev, who eliminated Everton in the last 16, were seconds away from holding a first-leg lead against Fiorentina.

Netherlands forward Jeremain Lens's spectacular 25-yard strike put them ahead before half-time, but Fiorentina levelled in the second minute of stoppage time when Khouma Babacar improvised to hook home.

Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk pressed for a late away goal as Belgian side Club Brugge survived ahead of next Thursday's return leg in Ukraine.

Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain scored his 24th goal of the season to put the Italians ahead
Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain scored his 24th goal of the season to put the Italians ahead
Captain Marek Hamsik scored twice for Napoli, who Diego Maradona helped to win the Uefa Cup in 1989
Captain Marek Hamsik scored twice for Napoli, who Diego Maradona helped to win the Uefa Cup in 1989
Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg boast the Bundesliga's best record since the German top-flight resumed after the winter break
Sevilla
Denis Suarez arrived at Sevilla on a season-long loan from Barcelona, who he joined from Manchester City in 2013

Line-ups

Wolfsburg

  • 1Benaglio
  • 8Vieira de Freitas
  • 25Naldo
  • 31Knoche
  • 34Rodriguez
  • 23GuilavoguiSubstituted forArnoldat 70'minutes
  • 22Dias
  • 7Caligiuri
  • 14De Bruyne
  • 17SchürrleSubstituted forPerisicat 64'minutes
  • 12DostSubstituted forBendtnerat 57'minutesBooked at 80mins

Substitutes

  • 3Bendtner
  • 4Schäfer
  • 5Klose
  • 9Perisic
  • 15Träsch
  • 20Grün
  • 27Arnold

Napoli

  • 45Andujar
  • 11Maggio
  • 33Albiol
  • 5Britos
  • 31Ghoulam
  • 19López Silva
  • 88Inler
  • 7Callejón
  • 17HamsikSubstituted forGabbiadiniat 75'minutes
  • 14MertensSubstituted forInsigneat 60'minutes
  • 9HiguaínSubstituted forAdriano Bussat 86'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Barbosa
  • 4Adriano Buss
  • 8Jorginho
  • 23Gabbiadini
  • 24Insigne
  • 26Koulibaly
  • 77Gargano
Referee:
Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz

Match Stats

Home TeamWolfsburgAway TeamNapoli
Possession
Home58%
Away42%
Shots
Home13
Away13
Shots on Target
Home4
Away7
Corners
Home9
Away6
Fouls
Home7
Away7

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, VfL Wolfsburg 1, Napoli 4.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, VfL Wolfsburg 1, Napoli 4.

  3. Post update

    Luiz Gustavo (VfL Wolfsburg) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Henrique (Napoli).

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Faouzi Ghoulam (Napoli) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Henrique.

  6. Post update

    Corner, Napoli. Conceded by Robin Knoche.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Daniel Caligiuri (VfL Wolfsburg).

  8. Post update

    Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  9. Substitution

    Substitution, Napoli. Henrique replaces Gonzalo Higuaín.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Daniel Caligiuri (VfL Wolfsburg).

  11. Post update

    Manolo Gabbiadini (Napoli) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  12. Post update

    Attempt missed. Luiz Gustavo (VfL Wolfsburg) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Maximilian Arnold.

  13. Post update

    Manolo Gabbiadini (Napoli) hits the bar with a left footed shot from outside the box. Assisted by David López.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Vieirinha (VfL Wolfsburg).

  15. Post update

    Gonzalo Higuaín (Napoli) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  16. Booking

    Nicklas Bendtner (VfL Wolfsburg) is shown the yellow card.

  17. Goal!

    Goal! VfL Wolfsburg 1, Napoli 4. Nicklas Bendtner (VfL Wolfsburg) right footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ivan Perisic.

  18. Post update

    Kevin De Bruyne (VfL Wolfsburg) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  19. Post update

    Foul by Miguel Britos (Napoli).

  20. Goal!

    Goal! VfL Wolfsburg 0, Napoli 4. Manolo Gabbiadini (Napoli) header from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lorenzo Insigne with a cross.