Goran Pandev, Edinson Cavani's stunner and Marek Hamsik gave Napoli a thumping 3-1 victory at sorry Palermo.
Bortolo Mutti made his home debut on the Rosanero bench, having drawn 2-2 at Novara before Christmas. He is their third Coach of the campaign after Stefano Pioli and Devis Mangia, both sacked by the fiery President Maurizio Zamparini. Josip Ilicic sat out a ban, joining the injured Abel Hernandez, Eran Zahavi and Eros Pisano, so new signing Franco Vazquez was thrown straight into the starting XI. Napoli miss Ezequiel Lavezzi for almost a month with a muscular injury, so Goran Pandev stepped in while Edinson Cavani returned to his old stomping ground.
Palermo almost scored in the opening 90 seconds, as Igor Budan fired an angled drive at the legs of Morgan De Sanctis. Walter Gargano also aimed his finish at the Palermo goalkeeper, then Cavani’s looping header was fingertipped out from under the bar by Benussi.
Vazquez chipped up a cross only for Budan to waste the free header. Vazquez nearly got a goal on his Palermo debut when Budan provided the through ball, but his chip was well over as De Sanctis came tearing out.
Federico Balzaretti provided a great cross from the left, but Miccoli is not strong in the air and it showed with a terribly scuffed header.
Napoli took the lead on 35 minutes, as Gargano went on the counter from a long Cavani pass and smartly pulled back for Goran Pandev, who spun round to commit his marker, giving himself the space to calmly tap in from six yards with his left foot. It was similar to the goal he scored against Juventus earlier this season.
Miccoli had two good chances to draw level, but scuffed his finish, while Pandev drilled just wide. In first half stoppages Palermo thought they had equalised when Miccoli’s free kick was nodded in by Giulio Migliaccio, but it was correctly flagged offside.
Mutti made a double change at half-time, switching to a 4-4-2 system, but Pandev immediately forced a low save out of Benussi.
Cavani doubled Napoli’s lead with an absolutely sensational goal. He curled an unstoppable stunner from distance that curled into the far top corner past a helpless Benussi. The former Palermo player refused to celebrate and indeed almost apologised to the fans, who responded by applauding their old hero.
Pandev so nearly made it 3-0, as his deflected effort rolled on to the base of the upright. The goal came moments later, as Gokhan Inler’s disguised pass sent Marek Hamsik through and he walked it in, slipping the angled drive at the near post practically from the by-line.
Agon Mehmeti received his Serie A debut for the Sicilians, but Napoli dominated possession. The game was slowly going towards the final whistle when Miccoli woke up the remaining fans with a splendid looping header into the far top corner.