Mon | Dec 18, 2017

Napoli beat nine-man Nice

Published:Thursday | August 17, 2017 | 12:00 AM

NAPLES, Italy (AP):

Dries Mertens started this season where he left off the last, setting Napoli on their way to a

2-0 win over nine-man Nice in the first leg of their Champions League play-off yesterday.

Mertens scored more than 30 goals last season for Napoli, with five of them in the Champions League. And it took the Belgium international less than 13 minutes to open his account for this campaign.

Mertens sprang the offside trap to race on to a through-ball, take it past onrushing goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale and slot it into the empty net.

The 30-year-old forward was instrumental in Napoli's second, winning a penalty when he was tripped by Christophe Jallet just inside the area. Jorginho converted the spot kick in the 70th minute.

"Today was a very important match, we told ourselves that. The team played well and gave everything," Mertens said. "But I think 2-0 is too little. It's not bad, but if we watch the match again I think it's too little looking at our performance."

Nice's night went from bad to worse 12 minutes from time when midfielder Vincent Koziello was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Napoli's Piotr Zielinski and teammate Alassane Plea followed him off the pitch after receiving a second yellow for dissent.

Other results: Celtic 5 Astana 0; Basaksehir 1 Sevilla 2; Hapoel Beer Sheva 2 Maribor 1; Olympiakos 2 Rijeka 1.