Bologna shocked Napoli by winning a five-goal thriller with Panagiotis Kone’s contender for goal of the season and Daniele Portanova on his comeback.
The Partenopei knew a win tonight would take them back into second place after Inter’s defeat to Lazio. Goran Pandev was back to full fitness, but still dropped in favour of Lorenzo Insigne, while Miguel Angel Britos faced his former teammates. Bologna held Lazio to a stalemate last week, but the injury list included Nico Pulzetti, Michele Pazienza, Robert Acquafresca, Diego Perez, Henry Gimenez, Cesare Natali, Gianluca Curci and the suspended Frederik Sorensen. Daniele Portanova returned after his four-month betting ban.
There was a tense atmosphere at the San Paolo, as the verdict in the latest betting scandal trial is due next week. It could be the last game of the season here for Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava, while the club risks a two-point penalty.
A Christian Maggio cross-shot flashed across the face of goal after three minutes, while Britos volleyed just off target from a corner.
However, Bologna broke the deadlock against the run of play. Niccolo Cherubin got down the left and whipped in a cross to the back post, which Manolo Gabbiadini turned in with his knee as he came flying in undisturbed.
Federico Agliardi flew to palm a wonderful Edinson Cavani free kick round the base of the upright, then from the corner took the sting out of the Uruguayan’s glancing header.
Marek Hamsik pounced on an error in the box after Portanova tripped on a Lorenzo Insigne through ball, but Agliardi stood tall to block his finish with an ankle.
It should’ve been 2-0, as Alberto Gilardino got his powerful header into the net, but he was incorrectly flagged offside.
Agliardi smothered a Valon Behrami snapshot and Tiberio Guarente’s acrobatic defending prevented Hamsik getting on the end of an Insigne cross. The Bologna goalkeeper plucked an Insigne shot out from under the bar. The Rossoblu surprisingly made a tactical change before half-time, introducing Archimede Morleo for a very unhappy Guarente.
Napoli were almost caught out on the counter, as Morgan De Sanctis had to act as a sweeper to rush off his line and clear. De Sanctis then had his palms stung by an Alessandro Diamanti half-volley, turning it out from under the bar.
Insigne flashed a ball across for Cavani, but it was the striker who tripped Cherubin rather than the other way round. Morleo was booked for simulation after going down too easily under Alessandro Gamberini’s challenge.
Goran Pandev replaced Britos for the second half, switching to a 4-3-3, but the equaliser came from an unusual source. Insigne got to the by-line and forced Agliardi into a one-handed save at the near post, but ex-Bologna defender Gamberini was quickest to react and tapped in the loose ball from a yard.
Less than a minute later Bologna almost restored their advantage, as Rene Krhin’s header from a corner was accidentally cleared off the line – it struck teammate Gabbiadini.
Pandev sprinted forward on the counter from a Bologna corner and threaded through for Cavani, but Agliardi timed the run off his line perfectly to palm it off his feet. Marco Motta limped off for ex-Napoli defender Gyorgy Garics.
Napoli completed the comeback to take the lead when Insigne floated a fine cross to the back post for Cavani’s cushioned header. El Matador confirmed his status as the top scorer in Italian football in the 2012 calendar year.
Bologna did not give in and Hugo Campagnaro needed practically a goalline clearance on the Portanova header from a corner. Hamsik went on a mazy run and created space, but opted to spread the pass for Cavani who blasted over.
Agliardi captured a Hamsik strike, but Bologna got back on level terms thanks to an absolutely incredible goal – a sure contender for goal of the season. Panagiotis Kone saw the cross come in from the right and from just inside the area launched himself into the air for a perfect scissor-kick volley under the bar. It was unstoppable and magnificent.
Napoli were in shock and went 3-2 down moments later. Diamanti curled a free kick on to the head of Daniele Portanova, who was making his comeback after a four-month ban in the betting scandal for charges he always denied.
In stoppages Gokhan Inler dribbled past two players only to drill across the face of goal.