Roma rode their luck with deflections and own goals, but earned a surprise 3-1 victory at Napoli’s Stadio San Paolo.
The Derby del Sud is always a fiery affair and this time round both teams were looking for a morale-booster. The Partenopei had let their Serie A form suffer in favour of the Champions League, but had the Three Tenors starting this big game. Luis Enrique was under immense pressure and welcomed back Bojan Krkic and Juan from bans, while Miralem Pjanic was suspended, joining the injured Fabio Borini, Simon Kjaer, Marco Cassetti, Fernando Gago and Nicolas Burdisso.
Roma took the lead after two minutes and 15 seconds with a bizarre goal! Erik Lamela squirmed between Hugo Campagnaro and Paolo Cannavaro down the left and pulled across for Fabio Simplicio, but it was deflected off Salvatore Aronica to bounce in off Morgan De Sanctis’ arm.
Napoli fought back straight away, but Christian Maggio just about stopped Lamela tapping in Totti’s cross at the back post.
The San Paolo crowd was already cheering on 23 minutes, as Juan Zuniga burst past Aleandro Rosi to pull across the six-yard box, but Marek Hamsik somehow ballooned over the bar! It was a truly incredible miss.
Maarten Stekelenburg beat away an Ezequiel Lavezzi cross at the near post with some difficulty and then a splendid Maggio half-volley stung the goalkeeper’s palms.
Napoli were increasingly taking control and Lavezzi ran on to a Hamsik pass down the right flank to smash his shot against the base of the upright!
Rodrigo Taddei set up Osvaldo to skim the woodwork, then moments later the Italian international’s brilliant first touch killed a Daniele De Rossi long ball dead, but the finish with the outside of the boot shaved a coat of paint off the far post.
Roma threatened again, as Lamela’s daisy-cutter dribbled past De Sanctis and clipped the edge of the upright. Just before the break, Zuniga chested down a free kick to blast over the bar.
Edinson Cavani put the ball in the net, but only after the referee had blown the whistle for a mystery Maggio foul on Rosi. Napoli had another great chance as Lavezzi sprung the offside trap on Walter Gargano’s chipped pass, but he was a fraction too late and came sliding in to turn wide. Lavezzi picked up a muscular problem during that move and had to make way for Goran Pandev.
Hamsik went on a slalom between Roma defenders, but Stekelenburg was ready for his angled drive.
Just as Napoli were putting on the most pressure, they conceded at the back. Totti swept in a cross from the right flank that Hugo Campangaro failed to deal with, allowing Osvaldo to tap in from six yards.
Hamsik skipped past Daniele De Rossi for a fierce strike that Stekelenburg beat away at the near stick, then Giuseppe Mascara was thrown on in a very attacking line-up.
Cavani first nodded a Zuniga cross straight at Stekelenburg, then hit the side-netting with an angled drive. Taddei also skimmed the woodwork with his left-foot strike.
Napoli got themselves back in it to set up a spectacular finale. Hamsik made up for his earlier error, running on to a Zuniga pull-back to drill across Stekelenburg from six yards.
At the 89th minute Cavani’s volley cracked the underside of the bar, but he was correctly flagged offside.
Moments later, Fabio Simplicio ensured the three points were safe for Roma by putting them two goals ahead. There was again a lot of good luck in this goal, as his snapshot from the edge of the box took a massive deflection off Cannavaro to loop over a helpless De Sanctis.
It was almost 4-1 for the Giallorossi, as in stoppages Cannavaro cleared an Osvaldo effort off the line.