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2014/15 UEFA Europa League, 2014 First Round
  • Marek Hamsik (35')
  • Gonzalo HiguaĆ­n (74')

Marek Hamsik the star as Napoli win at Slovan Bratislava

Napoli's perfect start to their Europa League campaign continued as Marek Hamsik inspired them to victory over former club Slovan Bratislava at the Stadion Pasienky on Thursday.

Hamsik put the Italians on their way with a perfect header in the 35th minute and then set up a second for substitute Gonzalo Higuain to make it 2-0 with 16 minutes remaining.

The outcome in Slovakia ended Slovan's five-game unbeaten home run in European competition and lifted Napoli top of Group I, three points clear of Sparta Prague and Young Boys.

Sparta won 3-1 over Young Boys in the other group game.

The hosts, looking for their first win after being humbled 5-0 at Young Boys in their opening group fixture, were under pressure early on with Jonathan de Guzman's 12-yard shot forcing Slovan goalkeeper Dusan Pernis to make a save.

Hamsik came closest on the half-hour mark when he drilled a left-footed shot from 14 yards that forced Pernis to dive to his right to clear.

Napoli took the lead shortly after when Hamsik got his head behind Kalidou Koulibaly's cross to beat Pernis.

Before half-time, Pernis kept out Dries Mertens' right-footed volley from outside the area.

Slovan showed more determination after the restart and should have equalised before the hour mark.

Substitute Marko Milinkovic was left unmarked in the Napoli area but nodded wide a Juraj Halenar cross.

At the other end, Mertens' bullet strike from 30 yards beat Pernis but rebounded off the crossbar.

In the 70th minute, Slovan finally tested Rafael Cabral with a long-range effort from Milinkovic which the Napoli goalkeeper kept out.

Napoli then made it 2-0 when Higuain, who had entered the pitch one minute earlier, got behind Hamsik's cross and headed the ball past a helpless Pernis.

Milinkovic was unlucky not to reduce the deficit six minutes from time when his powerful free-kick hit the woodwork.

ends