SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 26 - 2 Mar 2014 (17.30 UK)
1 - 1 Napoli
Mertens pen 32 (N), Mbaye 39 (L)
Stadio Armando Picchi

Napoli were held to a second consecutive Serie A draw at relegation strugglers Livorno after a Pepe Reina howler.

Rafa Benitez could not afford to drop more points after last week’s 1-1 home draw with Genoa, but made this trip without the suspended Gonzalo Higuain and Raul Albiol, while Rafael, Juan Camilo Zuniga and Giandomenico Mesto were still sidelined. Livorno were without Luca Siligardi and Andrea Luci, but gave Ishak Belfodil his first start since arriving on loan from Inter in January.

Ibrahima Mbaye rushed to anticipate Marek Hamsik on a Goran Pandev through ball, but almost scored an own goal with his clearance looping on to the crossbar.

Francesco Bardi got down to smother a Dries Mertens effort and Pepe Reina plucked a Leandro Greco free kick out of the near top corner. Bardi also had his gloves stung at the near post by another Mertens strike.

The referee pointed to the spot when Mbaye’s awful defensive header was setting up Pandev, but the Macedonian was nudged in the back by Ceccherini. Mertens stepped up and coolly converted past Bardi.

Bardi beat away a Jose Callejon shot at the near post on a rapid counter, but Reina had to be at full stretch to block Djamel Mesbah for a corner at the by-line as he ran on to Belfodil’s through ball.

Livorno got an equaliser in scrappy fashion moments later. Mesbah pulled back from the by-line for Mbaye and Reina couldn’t stop the ball crossing the line as it squirmed under his body.

After the restart, Marco Benassi and Paulinho tried from distance, while Bardi smothered at Cristian Maggio’s feet on a Jorginho through ball.

Paulinho skipped past Federico Fernandez, but Belfodil failed to finish it off and was blocked off in the box by Miguel Angel Britos for a corner.

Livorno had another great chance moments later, but Paulinho blasted straight at Reina from 12 yards. At the other end, Marek Hamsik got his head to a Mertens cross and forced Bardi into a tricky save.

A Mertens curler skimmed the woodwork and Jorginho got back crucially to intercept Paulinho’s cross as Greco was lining up the volley. Just before he was substituted, Belfodil went on a mazy run and forced Reina to rush off his line.

Callejon flashed his shot across the face of goal, while Duvan Zapata came sliding in and was just unable to get the decisive touch to a wonderful Mertens assist.

A free kick fell to Mbaye, who blasted over the bar in stoppages.


: Bardi; Ceccherini, Emerson, Coda; Mbaye, Benassi, Biagianti, Greco (Duncan 83), Mesbah; Paulinho (Castellini 90), Belfodil (Emeghara 77)
Napoli: Reina; Maggio, Fernandez, Britos, Ghoulam; Inler, Jorginho; Mertens, Hamsik (Zapata 82), Callejon; Pandev (Insigne 70)
Ref: Mazzoleni