Napoli made a stunning start to their Serie A season, demolishing Palermo 3-0 at the Stadio Barbera.
The Partenopei have already had a fiery start to the season with the controversial Italian Super Cup defeat to Juventus. Goran Pandev and Juan Camilo Zuniga were sent off in that game and therefore banned here, joining the suspended Andrea Dossena. Walter Mazzarri had also been given a touchline ban, but that was revoked on appeal. Hometown boy Lorenzo Insigne was therefore given his first Serie A start.
Palermo had new Coach Giuseppe Sannino pledging to end their reputation for leaky defences. He had Josip Ilicic, Eran Zahavi, Andrea Mantovani and Lores Varela injured, plus Jasmin Kurtic and Carlos Labrin suspended. New summer signing Paulo Dybala’s international transfer hadn’t come through yet.
Insigne had a great chance on 17 minutes, his header beaten away from point-blank range by goalkeeper Samir Ujkani after a Hugo Campagnaro cross, then an Edinson Cavani solo run was charged down.
Morgan De Sanctis did well to spread his body and parry an Eros Pisano header at the back post from Fabrizio Miccoli’s free kick.
Palermo lost Franco Brienza to a muscular problem in the opening half-hour, replaced by Giulio Migliaccio.
Napoli somehow failed to score at the 41st minute! Christian Maggio nodded a set play across to the back post, where an unmarked Cavani incredibly hit the underside of the bar from a yard! The ball bounced off the woodwork, down on to the line and back out again.
The Partenopei did get their opener deep into first half stoppages. The move developed down the right with Maggio, who pulled back for a Hamsik right-foot screamer into the near top corner, taking Ujkani by surprise.
Nicolas Bertolo was booked for diving and Insigne put the ball in the net after he had been flagged offside. Maggio and Cavani combined to set up Hamsik’s shot wide in some lovely one-touch football, but Insigne went off with cramp.
Palermo had strong penalty appeals when Maggio tripped Cetto when trying to block his shot from six yards as the ball ricocheted around the box.
Napoli put the seal on the three points 11 minutes from time. Munoz was keeping everyone onside as Maggio chested down a cross-field pass to surge into the area and fire an angled drive past Ujkani.
Cavani finished off the match when Edu Vargas sprung the offside trap and chipped a cross to the Uruguayan’s header from a couple of yards. The former Palermo striker did not celebrate and made a gesture of apology to the home fans, earning a round of applause.