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Dnipro scores late for 1-1 draw at Napoli in Europa League

May 7, 2015

NAPLES, Italy (AP) — Ukrainian side Dnipro equalized late in the second half for a 1-1 draw at Napoli in the opening leg of the Europa League semifinals on Thursday.

Napoli midfielder David Lopez headed in a corner from Lorenzo Insigne in the 50th minute at San Paolo Stadium, and it was all Napoli until substitute forward Yevhen Seleznyov redirected in a cross at the far post nine minutes from time.

Insigne also hit the post early in the first half.

“We controlled the match but it was difficult to play against them. They’re a squad that defends well,” Lopez said. “Now we need to react and see about winning the next match.

“We had several chances and I think in the end the result wasn’t fair. They produced only one shot on goal.”

Napoli is aiming for its first European title since Diego Maradona led the southern club to the 1989 UEFA Cup, the predecessor to the Europa League. Dnipro is seeking its first continental trophy.

In the other semifinal, Sevilla beat Fiorentina 3-0.

The return legs are scheduled for next week. The final is on May 27 in Warsaw.

Dnipro coach Myron Markevych gave his squad only a 40 percent chance of reaching the final, but he may need to revise the percentage.

In the previous three rounds, Dnipro eliminated Olympiakos, Ajax, and Brugge.

Napoli’s advancement could also be key toward convincing coach Rafa Benitez to stay.

Napoli sits fourth in Serie A, one spot out of the Champions League places, and needs to win the Europa League to be sure of qualifying for the competition next season.

Napoli controlled much of the match but had trouble creating chances against a solid Dnipro defense.

Insigne found the outside of the post with a long, looping shot 10 minutes in then was set up by Gonzalo Higuain in the 22nd but couldn’t find the target.

After Insigne’s goal, Higuain nearly doubled the lead but his angled shot was deflected wide with a quick reflex save from goalkeeper Denys Boyko.

Higuain had two more chances saved by Boyko in the 73rd and 78th, and then Seleznyov equalized a minute after coming on.

Artem Fedetskiy sent a low cross in from the left and Roman Bezus missed it but fellow substitute Seleznyov was on hand to tap it in.