Pipita's Napoli punish Roma

20

Roma missed an opportunity to take overall control of the Serie A table as Napoli moved into third place by beating the capital club 2-0 at the Stadio San Paolo. Victory in Naples would have lifted the Giallorossi three points clear of title rivals Juventus, who were due to visit Empoli later on Saturday evening, but after Gonzalo Higuain fired a stylish early opener Roma were largely second best. Rudi Garcia's men did mount a rally after the break, yet their second defeat of the season was ultimately confirmed by a late strike from the industrious Jose Callejon. Napoli made a great start when Higuain emphatically volleyed past Roma goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis, after Lorenzo Insigne's shot from distance had deflected into his path. In the 11th minute Callejon's angled shot on the turn forced De Sanctis into a save with his fists, then Callejon struck the crossbar a minute later with a thumping drive from the edge of the box. The woodwork was struck again in the 25th minute when Christian Maggio hit the bar and Higuain came up just short when trying to head home the rebound. It was one-way traffic and soon after good movement from Callejon saw him glance the bar with a left-foot shot. The half finished as it started with Napoli on the front foot and Marek Hamsik crossed for Callejon, who could not hit the target with a shot on the slide. And after De Sanctis had done well to deny Higuain, Hamsik could only strike the bar with the goalkeeper helpless. Roma improved in the second half, with Francesco Totti's low cross eluding both Miralem Pjanic and Alessandro Florenzi, before Florenzi sidefooted wide from an excellent position after a neat pullback from Pjanic. In the 57th minute Totti struck the bar and two minutes later Florenzi came close after latching onto Jose Holebas' long ball forward. Seven minutes later and Roma needed Radja Nainggolan to make a last-ditch goalline clearance after nimble footwork from Kalidou Koulibaly had enabled Callejon to roll the ball past De Sanctis. Roma defender Kostas Manolas nearly sent the ball into his own goal as he blocked a move involving Insigne and Higuain. However, the respite was only temporary for Roma and Napoli made the points safe in the 85th minute, Callejon getting the goal his performance deserved when he latched onto Higuain's pinpoint pass.