Rafa Benitez’s new Napoli started with a bang, thrashing Bologna 3-0 with Jose Maria Callejon and a Marek Hamsik brace.
Stefano Pioli has been something of a Bogey Man for the Partenopei, as last season they knocked Napoli out of the Coppa Italia and beat them here in Serie A. Rafa Benitez picked Goran Pandev, Marek Hamsik and Jose Maria Callejon to fan out behind huge summer signing Gonzalo Higuain. Pablo Armero and Blerim Dzemaili sat out bans. Bologna had to do without Archimede Morleo, Niccolo Cherubin and Frederik Sorensen.
In the opening minutes Callejon’s volley bounced on to the base of the far post, creating a real scare for Bologna.
Panagiotis Kone tested Pepe Reina from distance, but it was a Napoli siege that eventually paid off.
Callejon scored on his Serie A debut, in the right place at the right time to tap in after Marek Hamsik’s powerful half-volley was beaten away.
Higuain had the ball in the back of the net from a Hamsik assist, but it was flagged offside in a very close decision. He appeared to be just about level with the pass.
Hamsik added the second goal anyway in first half stoppages. Juan Camilo Zuniga rolled across for Hamsik, who dribbled round defender and goalkeeper to deposit into the net from a tight angle.
Callejon’s angled drive skimmed the far post, possibly with a touch from Gianluca Curci’s ankle, then Higuain’s free kick whistled inches wide.
Goran Pandev rolled across with his back to goal for Hamsik to finish it off and add a third goal.
Kone tested Pepe Reina with one of his usual powerful efforts from distance, the ball bouncing almost off the ex-Liverpool goalkeeper’s chest.
Dries Mertens thought he had added to the party, but he was clearly offside when turning in the rebound from a parried Lorenzo Insigne effort.