Napoli hold firm to keep Marseille pointless
Napoli beat Marseille 2-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday, goals in either half from Jose Callejon and Duvan Zapata doing the damage with Andre Ayew getting a late consolation for the French hosts.
Their second Group F win kept Napoli's hopes alive of qualifying for the knockout stages, Rafael Benitez's side joint top on six points along with Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund.
"Marseille have quality players but they maybe can't maintain the same intensity for 90 minutes and our second goal changed the match," said Benitez.
"The fixture calendar favours us now with two matches to come at home because, for us, it is always an advantage to play at the San Paolo."
For Marseille this third consecutive loss left them staring at no European football after the group stage with even the Europa League for finishing third in the group an unlikely prospect.
"It is a complex and difficult situation with two matches to come away from home, but we knew from the beginning it would be difficult," admitted OM coach Elie Baup.
It was virtually all Napoli in the first half, with Marseille captain Steve Mandanda far the busier of the two keepers.
His opposite number, Pepe Reina, was called into action for the first time after the half hour mark when Souleymane Diawara rose to meet Dimitri Payet's corner only to head the ball straight at Reina.
Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain, in his 50th Champions League game, had a major part in Napoli's 42nd-minute opener.
Higuain, playing in the country of his birth, sent the ball over the Marseille defence to find Callejon on the left of the area.
The Spaniard, who joined Napoli from Real Madrid in the close season, chested the ball down before rounding his marker to drill home right-footed past Mandanda.
As their defence held firm Napoli sealed the win in the 67th minute, when Dries Mertens with a deft touch found Zapata, the second-half substitute's dipping shot flying over Mandanda's head.
The 22-year-old had reportedly been a target of Premier League side West Ham this summer, but the striker eventually elected to join Napoli from Argentine outfit Estudiantes.
Forced onto the attack, Marseille pulled one back four minutes from time with Ayew's 25 metre strike, the Ghanian forward set up by his brother Jordan.