UCL Qualifiers: Mertens Inspires Napoli Victory Over Nice

Dries Mertens scored one and set up another as Napoli secured a valuable 2-0 first-leg win over Nice in the Champions League qualifying play-offs.

After giving his side an early lead at Stadio San Paolo, Mertens won a second-half penalty which Jorginho converted to earn a commanding advantage ahead of next week’s return tie.

Nice were without injured star Mario Balotelli and new signing Wesley Sneijder, and their relative inexperience showed as Mertens rounded the onrushing Yoan Cardinale for a 13th-minute opener.

The hosts spurned several opportunities but will still take a handy buffer to Nice, whose task grew tougher when young midfielder Vincent Koziello was shown a straight red for a studs-up tackle on Piotr Zielinski.

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