SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 25 - 24 Feb 2014 (20.00 UK)
Napoli 1 - 1 Genoa
Higuain 18 (N), Calaiò 83 (G)
Stadio San Paolo

The Partenopei were punished for their complacency after Napoli-owned Emanuele Calaiò earned Genoa a 1-1 draw at the San Paolo.

Rafa Benitez shelved his usual squad rotation, as the Partenopei couldn’t afford to drop more Serie A points against a comfortably mid-table Genoa side. Federico Fernandez and Jorginho were unavailable for Thursday’s Europa League draw with Swansea City, so they came in along with goalkeeper Pepe Reina after Rafael’s season-ending knee injury. The Grifone went on the attack with Alberto Gilardino, Moussa Konate and veteran Giuseppe Sculli.

This is always a special fixture, as the two sets of supporters have been twinned for over 30 years.

Gonzalo Higuain had the first chance after three minutes, turning his marker with back to goal in order to fire wide from the edge of the box. Mattia Perin then flew to palm a curling Dries Mertens effort out from under the bar, but from that corner Genoa broke with a dangerous counter that Anthony Reveillere stopped Sculli from finalising.

Another Mertens strike was inches off target, but it was Higuain who eventually got the breakthrough. He sprung the offside trap on a Marek Hamsik through ball and drew out Perin before delicately chipping the goalkeeper.

A towering Luca Antonelli header turned Francelino Matuzalem’s free kick over, then Genoa went even closer moments later. Moussa Konate pounced on a Raul Albiol error and pulled Reina wide, squirming his shot under the goalkeeper as Fernandez rushed back for a goalline clearance.

Higuain drilled inches wide and Belgium international Mertens flashed just off target again. Sculli was fortunate to avoid a booking for his late tackle on Valon Behrami, but Matuzalem did get the card for a two-footed lunge on Fernandez.

Genoa should’ve equalised on 35 minutes when Antonelli’s cross was whipped in for the totally unmarked Konate at the near post, but his header was into the ground and straight at Reina.

Mertens tested Perin at the near stick after shrugging off two defenders down the left, then Higuain’s cross-shot flashed past the goalkeeper.

Ioannis Fetfatzidis surprisingly replaced a quiet Alberto Gilardino for the second half. Antonelli got a crucial block from Callejon after Jorginho’s ball rolled across the face of goal, but Sculli had a great chance to equalise when he cut in from the left and his angled drive skimmed the base of the far post.

Sculli also tested Reina from distance, as Napoli seemed sluggish and nervous in the second half. It even showed on Higuain, who was booked for a late tackle and will be suspended against Livorno.

Napoli were resting on their laurels and made to pay for it, as Genoa equalised with a player who is currently on loan from the Partenopei. Emanuele Calaiò came off the bench and curled a wonderful free kick over the wall, in off the inside of the far post to leave Reina stranded. Calaiò saluted the San Paolo crowd apologetically after that goal, as he was key for Napoli during their reconstruction in Serie C1 and B.


Napoli: Reina; Reveillere, Fernandez, Albiol, Ghoulam; Behrami, Jorginho (Inler 80); Mertens (Pandev 85), Hamsik (Insigne 72), Callejon; Higuain
Genoa: Perin; Burdisso, De Maio, Antonini; Motta (Calaiò 63), Matuzalem, Bertolacci, Antonelli; Konate, Gilardino (Fetfatzidis 46), Sculli (Centurion 78)
Ref: Banti