Napoli 3-1 Chievo: Partenopei prevail to heap pressure on Juve

Napoli recovered from an early setback to sweep Chievo aside at the San Paolo.

Napoli 3-1 Chievo: Partenopei prevail to heap pressure on Juve
Image source: Il Mattino
3 1
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Chiriches, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; David Lopez (Allan, min. 66), Jorginho, Hamsik (Chalobah, min. 85); Callejon, Higuain, Insigne (Mertens, min. 70).
Chievo: Bizzarri; Frey, Dainelli, Cesar, Cacciatore; Rigoni (Hetemaj, min. 66), Radovanovic, Castro; Birsa (Meggiorini, min. 63); Mpoku, Pellissier (Floro Flores, min. 54).
SCORE: 0-1, min. 1, Rigoni. 1-1, min. 5, Higuain. 2-1, min. 37, Chiriches. 3-1, min. 69, Callejon.
REFEREE: Marco Di Bello (ITA). Admonished Castro (min. 10), Cesar (min. 56), Meggiorini (min. 81).

Napoli reclaimed top spot, albeit temporarily, in Serie A with a thoroughly convincing 3-1 victory over Chievo at the San Paolo.

The Partenopei fell behind inside a minute when Nicola Rigoni punished Vlad Chiriches in possession but Gonzalo Higuain responded almost instantly. 

Napoli seized control thereafter, pulling ahead through the Romanian and adding a third shortly after the hour-mark via Jose Callejon to register their first win February 7.

Frenetic start

Maurizio Sarri had tried to coax a response from his players after their disappointing 1-1 draw with Fiorentina on Monday night but his side fell behind inside a minute.

Nicola Rigoni pilfered possession from a complacent Vlad Chiriches and, catching Pepe Reina by surprise, struck a ferocious effort from outside the area which the Spaniard could only palm into the top corner. 

If the Napoli boss hadn’t received the response he pleaded for, he could commend his players steel for the way in which they restored parity only four minutes later.

Marek Hamsik freed Faouzi Ghoulam down the left and the Algerian spotted Gonzalo Higuain darting to the front post. The Argentine, as cool as you like, slotted his side-footed effort under Alberto Bizzarri.

David Lopez flashed an attempt wide on the 13th minute as the home side began to monopolise possession.

Ghoulam was threatening down the left and his expertly weighted pull-back for Higuain on 19 minutes almost engendered a second for the hosts.

Fabrizio Cacciatore was almost left red-faced when Jose Callejon ghosted in-behind and stroked Ghoulam’s driven cross into the side netting. 

Callejon prompted a fine stop from Bizzarri when he was ushered in by Lorenzo Insigne minutes later but could only prod his effort at goal.

Napoli continued to probe and were rewarded on the 38th minute. 

Opting short from the corner, Jorginho curled a delicious cross to the far post where Chiriches lurked and the Romanian atoned for his earlier error by arrowing his header beyond Bizzarri.

Hosts seize control

Chievo could have levelled minutes after the restart when Sergio Pellissier flicked a delightful header towards the far stick but Lucas Castro, at full stretch, could not make a connection.

Insigne tried to catch Bizzarri by surprise when he shifted inside and clipped a dangerous effort inches over the crossbar.

Higuain cannoned a shot off the underside of the bar on the 65th minute after being found in acres of space by Insigne.

It mattered little, though, as Napoli struck their all-important third just shy of 70 minutes.

Linking well with Hamsik, Allan, introduced for David Lopez only minutes earlier, spotted Callejon loitering in the danger area and the midfielder slid a delightful pass across goal. The Spaniard, drifting in-behind Dario Dainelli, cushioned his effort into the bottom corner.

Higuain dragged Dries Mertens’ deft through ball just wide of the mark as Chievo grew complacent.

The home side pressed for a fourth but their efforts were in vain.