Napoli edge Chievo 2-1


Manolo Gabbiadini scored the winner as Napoli edged Chievo 2-1 in Verona on Sunday afternoon to cement their grip on third place in Serie A. The game was level at 1-1 after each team benefited from own goals. Napoli took a 1-0 lead when the ball ricocheted off Chievo defender Bostjan Cesar and went into the back of the net in the 18th minute. Just seven minutes later and the Flying Donkeys were back on level terms, when, from a corner, Napoli goalkeeper Rafael punched the ball into the back of team-mate Miguel Angel Britos and it bounced into the net. Gabbiadini put Napoli in front in the 62nd minute – his first goal since joining the team from Sampdoria last month and Napoli held on to clinch three vital points in their battle for Champions League football next season. The victory, Napoli's third consecutive in Serie A, has allowed Rafa Benitez's side to climb five points clear of closest rivals Lazio and Sampdoria, who lost at Cesena and Torino, respectively. Moreover, Napoli closed the gap on second-place Roma to four points. Chievo failed to get their first win in 2015 and remain in the relegation zone. The hosts could do little to prevent Napoli from taking the lead when Gabbiadini's goal-bound attempt took a deflection off Cesar and beat Chievo goalkeeper Albano Bizarri. After Chievo went back on level terms through Britos' own goal after 25 minutes, they had a chance to go in front before half-time but Alberto Paloschi's header from Ezequiel Schelotto's cross flew wide. Gabbiadini twice had efforts denied by Bizarri early in the second half. His constant attacking display paid off for Napoli when he struck the winner shortly after the hour. Ivan Strinic set up Gabbiadini in the box and he hit the ball from the centre of area towards the far post and out of Bizarri's reach. With one minute remaining, Ivan Radovanovic could have earned Chievo a point but saw his close-range attempt was kept out by Rafael.