Manchester City needed Aleksandar Kolarov's free-kick to rescue a point against Napoli as they suffered a frustrating night on their Champions League debut.

Roberto Mancini's men might have swept all before them in the Premier League this season but they found things a lot harder against the Italian side on their return to elite European football after a 43-year absence.

And it could have ended up being a memorable evening for City for the wrong reasons when Edinson Cavani finished off a swift counter-attack to give Napoli the lead after 69 minutes.

Kolarov spared his side's blushes with a wicked, curling strike into the corner of the net six minutes later but, with Bayern Munich and Villarreal to come, Group A is not going to get any easier.

With Mancini demanding a "fast start" from his men in his programme notes, expectations had been high before kick-off at the Etihad Stadium, bedecked in Champions League branding for the first time.

He almost got it when Samir Nasri fired a yard wide with a snapshot from the edge of the area while Edin Dzeko went closer still with an angled drive that beat Morgan De Sanctis but zipped past the post.

Mancini points to Champions League nerves

Napoli seemed happy to defend deep and looked to attack on the break and that tactic almost saw them break the deadlock after 18 minutes.

Vincent Kompany's mis-timed lunge left striker Ezequiel Lavezzi free to run into the area and curl a delicious shot against the bar with City keeper Joe Hart beaten.

City's best effort of the first half also came on the counter-attack, with Yaya Toure starting, and almost finishing a breathtaking move.

Toure intercepted on the edge of his own box and sprinted up field, feeding Sergio Aguero before meeting his return pass with a thumping shot against the bar.

Despite being on the wrong end of a couple of crunching tackles, Aguero continued to look lively but Napoli's back-line held firm and De Sanctis did well to push away a bouncing Kolarov free-kick when he was called into action.

Things continued in the same pattern after the interval, with City seeing more of the possession but Napoli threatening thanks to some intelligent counter attacking.

The Italian side went close again when Marek Hamsik arrived from midfield to meet a left-wing cross with a precise volley, but Kompany was on hand to hack off the line.

Did you know?

Aleksandar Kolarov's free-kick was the first Manchester City goal in the European Cup since Tony Coleman netted the opening goal in a 2-1 defeat at Fenerbahçe in the first round of the 1968/1969 competition

That was City's second warning and they would quickly face a third when Pablo Zabaleta had to deflect a goal bound Hamsik shot over the bar.

By now, Napoli were in the ascendancy and got their reward when they took the lead with a superb breakaway goal

When Nasri gave the ball away cheaply, defender Christian Maggio surged forward and slipped Cavani clear to slot the ball under Hart.

Going behind brought more urgency to City's attacking play but initially they remained out of luck inside the area, with Aguero flicking Nasri's cross on to the bar.

That quickly changed, however, when Kolarov curled a precise free-kick over the wall and into the corner of the net.

There was still time for one final scare when Kompany's short backpass almost let Goran Pandev in, but Hart was off his line quickly to avert the danger and ensure City's bid to become the first side to win the Champions League on their debut did not begin with a damaging defeat.

Match Stats

Shots

24 12

On target

11 4

Corners

9 9

Fouls

11 12

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +3:03 Full time

Full Time The final whistle goes and the game is over.

90:00 +1:59

Drilled right-footed shot by Carlos Tevez. Salvatore Aronica gets a block in. Adam Johnson takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Camilo Zuniga makes a clearance.

88:45

Joe Hart takes the free kick.

88:45 Substitution

Substitution Mario Alberto Santana replaces Marek Hamsik.

88:45

The assistant referee signals for offside against Blerim Dzemaili.

85:40

Carlos Tevez gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Salvatore Aronica. Gokhan Inler restarts play with the free kick.

84:40

Sergio Aguero produces a right-footed shot from outside the penalty box and misses right.

83:49

Blerim Dzemaili has an effort at goal from outside the area missing to the wide right of the target.

82:49 Substitution

Substitution Edinson Cavani leaves the field to be replaced by Goran Pandev.

82:49

Gnegneri Toure Yaya has an effort at goal from outside the area which goes wide left of the target.

82:00

Gareth Barry concedes a free kick for a foul on Edinson Cavani. Walter Gargano restarts play with the free kick.

80:30 Substitution

Substitution Carlos Tevez replaces Edin Dzeko.

79:59

Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Marek Hamsik.

78:35

Short corner worked by Adam Johnson, Adam Johnson takes a shot. Save by Morgan De Sanctis.

77:26

Edin Dzeko produces a left-footed shot from deep inside the area which goes wide of the left-hand post.

74:49 Substitution

Substitution Aleksandar Kolarov leaves the field to be replaced by Gael Clichy.

74:49 Substitution

Substitution Adam Johnson comes on in place of Samir Nasri.

74:02 Goal scored

Goal! - Aleksandar Kolarov - Man City 1 - 1 Napoli Aleksandar Kolarov finds the net with a goal direct from the free kick from just outside the box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Man City 1-1 Napoli.

73:14

Pablo Zabaleta fouled by Gokhan Inler, the ref awards a free kick.

72:50

Sergio Aguero takes the chance to get an effort at goal.

71:28

Effort from the edge of the penalty box by Marek Hamsik goes wide of the right-hand upright.

70:46

Free kick awarded for a foul by Gnegneri Toure Yaya on Walter Gargano. Free kick taken by Morgan De Sanctis.

68:06

The assist for the goal came from Cristian Maggio.

68:06 Goal scored

Goal! - Edinson Cavani - Man City 0 - 1 Napoli Edinson Cavani fires in a goal from deep inside the penalty box low into the middle of the goal. Man City 0-1 Napoli.

65:56

Marek Hamsik takes a shot. Pablo Zabaleta gets a block in. Short corner taken by Marek Hamsik. Corner taken right-footed by Marek Hamsik from the right by-line, clearance made by Joleon Lescott.

63:31

Effort from outside the penalty box by Blerim Dzemaili goes wide right of the goal.

63:10

Gnegneri Toure Yaya challenges Camilo Zuniga unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Marek Hamsik.

61:52

Marek Hamsik decides to take a short corner.

60:59

Sergio Aguero is caught offside. Salvatore Aronica takes the free kick.

58:46

Foul by Sergio Aguero on Salvatore Aronica, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Salvatore Aronica.

58:18

Joleon Lescott restarts play with the free kick.

58:18 Booking

Booking Gokhan Inler receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.

58:07

Gokhan Inler challenges Gnegneri Toure Yaya unfairly and gives away a free kick.

56:40 Substitution

Substitution Blerim Dzemaili replaces Ezequiel Lavezzi.

56:40

Samir Nasri produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the target.

55:46

Effort from 20 yards by Edin Dzeko. Save by Morgan De Sanctis.

55:19

Walter Gargano has an effort at goal from outside the area which goes wide right of the goal.

52:22

Sergio Aguero has an effort at goal from 12 yards. Blocked by Paolo Cannavaro. Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Marek Hamsik from the left by-line, Joleon Lescott produces a header from inside the area that goes over the bar.

51:16

Walter Gargano gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Pablo Zabaleta. Free kick taken by Gnegneri Toure Yaya.

49:24

Hugo Armando Campagnaro concedes a free kick for a foul on Edin Dzeko. Samir Nasri takes the free kick.

48:59

Volleyed right-footed shot by Marek Hamsik. Vincent Kompany manages to make a clearance.

48:29

Gareth Barry gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Gokhan Inler. Direct free kick taken by Walter Gargano.

48:01

Gareth Barry takes a shot. Paolo Cannavaro gets a block in.

47:39

Foul by Gokhan Inler on Gnegneri Toure Yaya, free kick awarded. Gnegneri Toure Yaya takes the free kick.

45:23

Samir Nasri challenges Marek Hamsik unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Walter Gargano.

45:01

The referee gets the second half underway.

45:00 +1:03 Half time

Half Time It is the end of the first-half.

42:33

Free kick taken by Samir Nasri.

42:33 Booking

Booking Salvatore Aronica receives a yellow card.

42:28

Salvatore Aronica concedes a free kick for a foul on Sergio Aguero.

41:38

Ezequiel Lavezzi takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance made by Joleon Lescott.

40:00

Unfair challenge on David Silva by Salvatore Aronica results in a free kick. Gnegneri Toure Yaya has an effort direct from the free kick, Hugo Armando Campagnaro gets a block in. Samir Nasri takes a inswinging corner to the near post, Edinson Cavani makes a clearance.

38:23

Ezequiel Lavezzi challenges Pablo Zabaleta unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed by Aleksandar Kolarov, Morgan De Sanctis makes a save. Corner taken right-footed by Samir Nasri from the left by-line, Headed effort from inside the area by Joleon Lescott misses to the left of the goal.

37:15

Camilo Zuniga has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide right of the goal.

36:57

David Silva has an effort at goal from 20 yards. Salvatore Aronica gets a block in.

33:59

Shot by Gnegneri Toure Yaya from inside the penalty area bounces off the post.

33:18

Ezequiel Lavezzi takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, clearance by Aleksandar Kolarov. Short corner worked by Ezequiel Lavezzi.

32:18

David Silva concedes a free kick for a foul on Camilo Zuniga. Morgan De Sanctis takes the free kick.

30:38

Free kick taken by Samir Nasri.

30:38 Booking

Booking Paolo Cannavaro goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.

30:32

Free kick awarded for a foul by Paolo Cannavaro on Sergio Aguero.

28:52

Shot by David Silva. Salvatore Aronica gets a block in.

26:39

David Silva produces a curled left-footed shot from 18 yards. Blocked by Paolo Cannavaro.

22:58

Direct free kick taken by Morgan De Sanctis.

22:58 Booking

Booking Pablo Zabaleta is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.

22:52

Foul by Pablo Zabaleta on Hugo Armando Campagnaro, free kick awarded.

22:04

Outswinging corner taken by Samir Nasri from the right by-line.

21:48

Aleksandar Kolarov delivers the ball.

21:01

Gokhan Inler has an effort at goal. Blocked by David Silva.

19:22

Ezequiel Lavezzi has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the right of the goal.

18:15

Walter Gargano gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Edin Dzeko. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Samir Nasri, comfortable save by Morgan De Sanctis.

17:27

Ezequiel Lavezzi takes a short corner.

16:59

Ezequiel Lavezzi produces a curled right-footed shot from 18 yards.

14:06

Samir Nasri crosses the ball in from the free kick, save by Morgan De Sanctis.

14:06 Booking

Booking The referee cautions Cristian Maggio for unsporting behaviour.

13:46

Free kick awarded for a foul by Cristian Maggio on David Silva.

12:36

Effort from the edge of the area by Edin Dzeko goes wide of the left-hand post.

11:23

Ezequiel Lavezzi fouled by Vincent Kompany, the ref awards a free kick. Gokhan Inler takes the direct free kick.

9:00

Edin Dzeko fouled by Gokhan Inler, the ref awards a free kick. David Silva produces a strike on goal direct from the free kick. Corner taken right-footed by Samir Nasri to the near post, Edin Dzeko takes a shot. Sergio Aguero takes a shot. Morgan De Sanctis makes a save. Short corner taken by Samir Nasri.

8:09

Edin Dzeko produces a right-footed shot from long range which goes wide right of the target.

6:22

Shot from long distance by Edinson Cavani misses to the right of the goal.

6:10

The ball is swung over by Pablo Zabaleta.

3:44

Samir Nasri takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line played to the near post.

2:24

Samir Nasri has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the right of the goal.

0:39

Gareth Barry concedes a free kick for a foul on Hugo Armando Campagnaro. Hugo Armando Campagnaro restarts play with the free kick.

0:00

The match gets underway.

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