Napoli smashed Verona’s excellent home record and Lorenzo Insigne got his first goal of the season in a 3-0 triumph.
There was so much going on in this clash, as the two clubs have a historic rivalry and Hellas were in fifth place with Napoli third. Pepe Reina, Valon Behrami, Giandomenico Mesto and Juan Camilo Zuniga were injured with Marek Hamsik back on the bench for the first time in almost two months. Verona had won all but one of their home games this season, losing only the derby with Chievo, and had Luca Toni leading Juanito Gomez Taleb and Juan Manuel Iturbe. Curiously, both goalkeepers were Brazilians called Rafael.
Hellas got off to a very aggressive start and Luca Toni ballooned over from Romulo’s assist, while Rafael Cabral had to punch an Emil Hallfredsson cross off his head.
Napoli eventually came out of their shells after 25 minutes and Gonzalo Higuain stung the goalkeeper’s palms.
Dries Mertens gave Napoli the lead with a wonderful finish, his right-foot curler from the left flank flashed across Rafael to go in off the inside of the far post.
Higuain’s daisy-cutter skimmed the upright, then Rafael needed a desperate save to deny Jose Callejon on the counter after Domenico Maietta gave away the ball.
Straight after the restart, Juan Iturbe’s through ball allowed Toni to break the offside trap through the middle, but Rafael beat away his fierce strike with some difficulty.
Goran Pandev should’ve doubled Napoli’s lead, but horribly ballooned over on the half-volley. Rafael smothered a Blerim Dzemaili angled drive set up for him by Callejon.
Evangelos Moras wanted a penalty, but his shot appeared to be charged down by Raul Albiol’s stomach rather than an arm. Federico Fernandez blocked a Juanito Gomez Taleb effort moments later, but Napoli were again more effective.
Lorenzo Insigne came off the bench to score his first Serie A goal of the season. Christian Maggio got down the right and rolled across for the young Neapolitan to tap in from six yards.
Verona were pouring forward, but caught out on the counter from their own corner.Rafael managed to beat away Insigne’s shot, but could do nothing on Blerim Dzemaili’s follow-up.