Napoli end wait for Serie A victory against Parma


Napoli claimed their first win in five Serie A matches to alleviate some of the pressure on underfire boss Rafael Benitez at the expense of rock-bottom Parma. The Spaniard has presided over an inconsistent start to the season but the Partenopei bounced back from a 2-0 defeat to AC Milan over the weekend by beating the Gialloblu by the same scoreline at the Stadio San Paolo. Duvan Zapata's close range goal and Dries Mertens' penalty proved the difference while visiting goalkeeper Antonio Mirante had to make several saves to keep the scoreline respectable. The top-flight's basement boys are in turmoil on and off the field, having sold out in a bid to preserve their status in Serie A. And their fortunes did not improve on Thursday night as they were largely outclassed. Zapata, who proved a constant thorn in Parma's backline, had already missed a good chance before putting his side ahead in the 19th minute. There looked to be little danger when Christian Maggio's innocuous cross from the right landed at the feet of Zapata but the Colombian forward outmuscled Gabriel Paletta on the turn before slotting home. Roberto Donadoni's men did themselves no favours as Massimo Gobbi then needlessly fouled Jose Callejon in the area on the half hour. While Mirante guessed right and was able to get a strong hand on Mertens' spot-kick, he was unable to prevent the ball from reaching the back of the net. It nearly got worse for Parma but Napoli defender Miguel Britos' free header went high over the bar. The one way traffic continued into the second half as Zapata broke free but his heavy touch allowed Mirante to rush off his line and clear just ahead of the Napoli attacker. Zapata and Callejon both had strikes from narrow angles well pushed away by Mirante, while at the other end, Lodi forced Napoli keeper Rafael Cabral into a rare save as the home side temporarily switched off at the back. But they nearly further increased their lead as Gonzalo Higuain broke down the right and cut inside with his strike parried by Mirante, while Callejon's follow-up was blocked by a defender. It mattered little though as Parma never threatened a comeback, with victory helping Napoli move up to third ahead of the weekend's fixtures.