Napoli fell nine points behind leaders Juventus and just two clear of Milan after a disastrous 2-0 defeat to Chievo in which Edinson Cavani’s penalty was saved.
The Partenopei are six points adrift of leaders Juventus, but only two clear of Milan. Edinson Cavani celebrated the birth of son Lucas on Friday, but hadn’t found the net in seven official games. Paolo Cannavaro was suspended and Miguel Angel Britos out after fracturing his jaw. Chievo welcomed back Perparim Hetemaj from his ban, but missed Gennaro Sardo and Francesco Acerbi.
Cyril Thereau tested Morgan De Sanctis at the base of the near post, while Juan Camilo Zuniga smashed a powerful effort just wide.
It was Chievo who took a shock lead after just 12 minutes. A free kick was cleared to around 22 metres away, where Boukary Drame picked his spot and unleashed an absolute blockbuster with his left foot that flew past De Sanctis.
There was almost a second moments later, as Alberto Paloschi’s header clipped the crossbar. Cavani hooked a long pass, but the finish was prodded into the hands of Christian Puggioni.
An Insigne screamer flashed just wide and Drame nearly completed his brace, firing over after losing his balance.
Cavani went down on the very edge of the box after a push, but the referee awarded a free kick when some Napoli players wanted a penalty. From that free kick, Puggioni beat away Cavani’s shot, then a deflected Rolando follow-up whistled inches wide.
The visitors were now pinning Chievo back into their own half, but got caught out on the break when Thereau sprung the offside trap to trap a long pass with a wonderful first touch and fire the angled drive past De Sanctis at the near post.
Napoli had lost three of their previous four visits to Verona, so the curse of the Bentegodi appeared to be striking again.
The Partenopei thought they had broken through, but play was halted because Cavani was in an offside position when accidentally charging down teammate Blerim Dzemaili’s shot.
Dario Dainello pushed down Cavani in the box for a penalty. El Matador stepped up, but his crisis in confidence was evident as a central spot-kick was beaten away by Puggioni!
Moments later Paloschi almost made it 3-0, going one-on-one to sting De Sanctis’ palms on the counter-attack.
Christian Maggio’s header was over the bar and Puggioni performed a splendid reaction save on Cavani’s blockbuster.
Saved penalty: Cavani 58 (N)