Three takeaways from Union Berlin 0-1 Napoli: Kvaratskhelia produces moment of brilliance, Raspadori joins illustrious company with winning goal

It was a far from convincing performance from Napoli against Union Berlin on Champions League Matchday 3, but Khvicha Kvaratskhelia dazzled on the left-wing and Giacomo Raspadori made history.

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Napoli did not produce one of their most convincing displays, but one goal was enough for the Partenopei to defeat German club Union Berlin on Champions League Matchday 3.

It was thanks to their young forwards that they were able to grab the win on Tuesday evening with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia supplying a delightful assist for Giacomo Raspadori to score with his only shot on target.

The win might have been easier if it was not for a subpar performance from Jens Cajuste in midfield, but Napoli are now clear second in Group C with six points, whereas Union Berlin are yet to earn a point.

Kvaratskhelia leads Trimmel on a merry dance

Although it was not a vintage performance from Napoli, they were still able to count on their star winger Kvaratskhelia for some attacking flair and he provided the assist for the only goal of the game.

It was in the 65th minute when he crossed the ball into the box, and it was cleared away by a Union Berlin defender, only for the ball to fall back into the path of the Georgian. With a sudden burst of speed, he was able to beat Union captain Christopher Trimmel, then run along the byline to cut the ball back for Raspadori to score.

In addition to his splendid assist, Kvaratskhelia had a successful passing rate of 90%, completed the most dribbles with four, won the most duels with 10, and achieved 100% accuracy with his long balls.

Napoli often perform at their best when the whole team is on song. Despite not constantly laying siege on the Union Berlin goal, the Partenopei were still able to rely on Kvaradona for some individual quality.

Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret giving instructions to teammates. (Photo: SSC Napoli Facebook)

Raspadori joins the likes of Bellingham and Haaland with winning goal against Union Berlin

In the absence of Victor Osimhen due to injury, Raspadori has been the preferred choice at centre-forward for Napoli coach Rudi Garcia, and he definitely took his chance, scoring the winner against Union Berlin.

With that goal, Raspadori became one of six players to score at least five goals in the last two Champions League campaigns. The other players to do it are Jude Bellingham, Vinicius Junior, and Rodrygo from Real Madrid, and Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland from Manchester City. He is also the only Italian to have scored at least five goals in the last two Champions League editions.

It is hard for Raspadori to find continuity when he has to compete with a forward like Osimhen for a starting berth, but he is often capable of taking his chances when he gets the opportunity to play.

Napoli midfielder Eljif Elmas is fouled by a Union Berlin player. (Photo: SSC Napoli Facebook)

Cajuste out of his depth against Union Berlin

If Kvaratskhelia was arguably Napoli’s best against Union Berlin, then the worst was probably Jens Cajuste. The Swedish midfielder signed from French club Stade de Reims in the summer, and he has had some difficulty adapting to Italian football.

Although he had one of his better performances for the Partenopei in the 3-1 win against Hellas Verona on the weekend, the 24-year-old clearly struggled against Union on Tuesday evening. He had difficulty getting into the game, contributing little offensively and defensively.

Garcia decided to replace Cajuste with Eljif Elmas at half-time, and the North Macedonia Men’s National Team player provided more of an attacking threat than the Swede. At this stage, Cajuste might be a decent deputy, but not a player who can play a key role for the Neapolitans.

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