Goran Pandev broke his Serie A duck with a brace at Marassi, giving Napoli a 2-0 victory over Genoa.
The Partenopei needed a boost after losing their perfect record with a 1-1 home draw to bottom of the table Sassuolo, while Genoa had only their derby victory keeping them afloat. Rafa Benitez continued squad rotation by resting Gonzalo Higuain and Marek Hamsik, giving Duvan Zapata his Serie A debut. Andrea Bertolacci, Luca Antonelli and Thomas Manfredini missed out for the hosts.
The atmosphere at Marassi was wonderful, as the two sets of fans are twinned and share an excellent rapport.
Miguel Angel Britos clashed heads with Alberto Gilardino and came off decidedly worse thanks to a bloody nose, but was able to continue.
Pepe Reina managed to throw the ball almost to the centre-circle, sparking a Napoli counter-attack, but Goran Pandev couldn’t turn in the box and De Maio crucially intercepted his pass to Jose Maria Callejon.
Pandev did get his goal soon after, as Juraj Kucka gave the ball away and the Macedonian rolled his finish into the near bottom corner. It was his first goal of the campaign.
Gokhan Inler drilled wide from distance, but Pandev added another when he completed a give-and-go with Lorenzo Insigne and took advantage of the space created by Duvan’s run to smash an angled drive across Mattia Perin with his weaker right foot.
Genoa also threatened, as a corner flashed across the face of goal with Alberto Gilardino and Alessandro Gamberini inches away from getting the final touch. However, Fabio Liverani was impatient and made a tactical substitution before half-time. Striker Adrian Stoian replaced defender Alessandro Gamberini for a 4-3-3. After the restart Mario Alberto Santana also came on for Luca Antonini, while Paolo Cannavaro replaced Raul Albiol due to slight muscular problems.
Kucka blasted over from the edge of the box and Callejon couldn’t steer his header past Perin, while Alberto Gilardino’s header whistled just wide from a Santana cross.
Gila ran on to a Fetfatzidis through ball and appeared to be bundled over by Cannavaro, but was flagged marginally offside anyway. Both were dubious decisions.
Callejon and Higuain had chances charged down in the box by the impressive De Maio, but Reina had to get down well to beat away a Fetfatzidis strike.
Emanuele Calaio had the chance to score against his former club, but the glancing header from a corner skimmed the back post.
Genoa threw on a series of forwards, but were unable to find the net for the third game in a row.