Naples, Italy (SportsNetwork.com) - Napoli cruised into the semifinals of the Europa League on Thursday with 6-3 aggregate victory over Wolfsburg, despite being held to a 2-2 draw in the second leg at the Stadio San Paolo.
After easing to a comfortable 4-1 rout of the Bundesliga side in the first leg, Rafa Benitez's men returned home with little pressure in the second leg knowing that Wolfsburg would have to score at least four goals to get back into the tie.
Despite facing a huge deficit and missing two quality starters in Andre Schurrle and Kevin De Bruyne, the visitors came out of the gates with much more energy and had plenty of the ball and quality scoring chances in the early going.
Joshua Guilavogui, Maximilian Arnold and Nicklas Bendtner all had opportunities in the first half to cut into the deficit, but Napoli goalkeeper Mariano Andujar had an answer each time as the clubs went into the intermission scoreless on the night with Napoli holding firm to its 4-1 aggregate lead.
Napoli opened the scoring in the 49th minute as Jose Maria Callejon did well to get on the end of a diagonal pass from Gonzalo Higuain and fire one on target that took a deflection and beat Wolfsburg goalkeeper Diego Benaglio for the first goal of the night and a 5-1 aggregate margin.
The hosts doubled the lead in the 65th minute as Higuain did well to get on the end of a long pass into the right side of the and laid it back to an on- rushing Dries Mertens. Mertens' first attempt was stopped, but he nodded home the rebound.
The visitors pulled one back in the 71st minute when Timm Klose got on the end of a corner kick for a well-placed header and just two minutes later Ivan Perisic made it 2-2 on the night.
Playing with some confidence after scoring twice in two minutes, Wolfsburg manager Dieter Hecking sent prolific striker Bas Dost onto the field in the 79th minute to play alongside Bendtner, hoping a two-forward look could produce some late heroics.
But those two late tallies proved to be merely consolation as Napoli held on over the last 11 minutes to reach the semifinals.
Also in the Europa League on Thursday, Yevhen Shakhov's 82nd-minute tally proved to be the difference over 180 minutes as Dnipro claimed a 1-0 aggregate win over Club Brugge, while Zenit and defending champions Sevilla played to a 2-2 second-leg draw, but Kevin Gameiro's goal with five minutes to play sent Sevilla into the semifinals with a 4-3 aggregate win.
Fiorentina and Dynamo Kyiv played to a 1-1 draw in the first leg, but goals from Mario Gomez and Juan Vargas propelled the Italian side to a 2-0 second leg and a 3-1 aggregate result.