Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli goes into weekend preparations topping Group A in the Champions League after a heavy 3-0 win against ten-man Glasgow Rangers at Ibrox Stadium tonight in a match that could have ended with an even greater deficit.
The southern Italian outfit opened group play with a 4-1 thrashing at Liverpool at home before traveling to Scotland and coming away with all of the spoils with another impressive performance with goals from Matteo Politano, Giacomo Raspadori, and Tanguy Ndombélé.
Though Rangers boss and former club left-back Giovanni van Bronckhorst felt hard done in the manner in which the Scottish giants suffered defeat on a night where the club paid homage to the recently passed Queen Elizabeth II, Napoli was good value for a big win on their travels with Polish international Piotr Zieliński unlucky to not add his name to the scoresheet after both hitting woodwork and having an effort from the penalty spot saved by veteran Rangers shot-stopper Allan McGregor.
But to Rangers’ credit, their Italian antagonists did not take the lead until after James Sands received his marching orders for a second bookable offense in the 55th minute while holding on an additional thirteen minutes before Politano broke the deadlock with the subsequent match winner.
After two heavy defeats and two upcoming matches against Liverpool waiting in the wings, it certainly appears that the Scottish footballing institution will be unable to produce further exploits on the continent akin to their considerable performances across the last two years in Europe.
Glasgow Rangers Player Ratings
GK: Allan McGregor (8) - Seven saves and an effort from the spot turned away highlighted an outstanding effort by the 40-year-old veteran keeper.
RCB: Connor Goldson (6) - There is little that can be done when you go down a man for forty minutes against a side as good in attack as Napoli is. Overwhelmed with the rest of the back line.
CB: John Lundstram (6) - Thrust into a defensive role on the night despite being a holding midfielder, he was unable to put his bet foot forward in a relatively unfamiliar role.
LCB: James Sands (4) - Sent off early in the second half after two bookable offenses in rapid succession.
RWB: James Tavernier (7) - Another good performance from a player who is the very embodiment of what Rangers have been about the last few seasons.
LWB: Borna Barašić (6) - Typically viewed as one of the most influential figures in the team at both ends of the pitch, the Croatian was unable to offer his usual well-rounded performance seen from him.
RCM: Scott Arfield (6) - One of a handful of Rangers players that tried their best to end Napoli’s clean sheet, the overall effort was short of the mark by the time he was removed.
CM: Steven Davis (6.5) - A fulcrum for Rangers, Davis had an okay outing given the circumstances but being down a man was always going to make the midfield task that much harder.
LCM: Ryan Jack (6.5) - Unfortunate to be removed from a match where he could have gone on to be a difference maker but Sands’ sending-off eventually took precedence.
LCF: Ryan Kent (7) - The one outfield player for Rangers on the night that maybe looked like making something truly happen. Deserved something more for his efforts.
RCF: Alfredo Morelos (6) - A frustrating day at the office for the Colombian striker whose sole contribution overall was a booking to his name.
Sub: Leon King (6) - Given just about thirty minutes in the aftermath of Sands receiving his marching orders but - like the rest of his club mates - was unable to contribute to a script change.
Sub: Antonio Colak (6) - Unable to change the script and offer something different to Morelos after being introduced with just about twenty minutes remaining.
Sub: Rabbi Matondo (6) - Subbed on for Arfield, Matondo offered a different profile on paper given his pace and willingness to be direct but was unable to craft that into a goal for the home side.
Sub: Glen Kamara (5) - Once a key figure at Rangers during past domestic and European exploits, Kamara came off the bench and produced a frustrating ten-minute display that included an error leading to a goal.
Sub: Malik Tillman (6) - Though the American international has enjoyed a solid start to his new surroundings at Rangers, he was unable to impose himself off the bench in a 10-minute cameo.
SSC Napoli Player Ratings
GK: Alex Meret (7) - A clean sheet and an overall good performance from the 25-year-old Italian who made a handful of saves as well.
RB: Giovanni Di Lorenzo (7) - Another effective performance at right-back for Di Lorenzo while offering a credible attacking outlet when overlapping.
RCB: Amir Rrahmani () - Though not brilliant at building play when on the ball, Rrahmani was good on the night alongside Kim as Napoli enjoyed a clean sheet.
LCB: Kim Min-jae (7.5) - A strong and dominant defensive display from the South Korean who showcased his aerial qualities rather well.
LB: Mário Rui (7) - Played well in the 70-odd minutes he received tonight with perhaps the weekend program being the cause of his removal.
RCM: André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (7.5) - An assist on the night for the former Fulham standout in what was a very good all-around outing away from home.
LCM: Stanislav Lobotka (7) - The Slovakian international performed admirably alongside Anguissa in an effective midfield pair on the night for Luciano Spalletti.
CAM: Piotr Zieliński (7.5) - On another day the Polish midfielder may have had a brace if not for hitting the woodwork and having a penalty saved. Very good overall.
RW: Matteo Politano (7.5) - A goal from the penalty spot for the Italian forward rounded off a very good performance on the night from him.
LW: Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (7) - The Georgian winger may not have gotten his name on the scoresheet in some capacity but his influence on the team is well established.
CF: Giovanni Simeone (6.5) - Though he didn’t add to his Champions League account in his first season at Napoli, Simeone still put in a decent evening and remains hungry in the attacking third.
Sub: Giacomo Raspadori (7.5) - A goal off the bench and an overall contribution that stripped what Simeone brought to the table at Ibrox.
Sub: Mathías Olivera (7) - An assist off the bench for the substitute left-back in what was a good performance despite featuring for just thirteen minutes.
Sub: Alessio Zerbin (6) - Not nearly as effective as the man he replaced in Matteo Politano but then again he did not have to be.
Sub: Tanguy Ndombélé (7.5) - Ostracized at Tottenham before jumping ship to Napoli this summer, his goal tonight will do his confidence a world of good this season.
Sub: Eljif Elmas (N/A) - Nothing more than a handful of minutes for the Macedonian to shore up the team in the dying moments of proceedings.