It was a Saturday night four-goal thriller as Napoli went 2-1 up with fantastic Camilo Zuniga and Edinson Cavani strikes only for Fabio Simplicio to snatch a Roma equaliser.
This was a fiery Derby del Sud and the Giallorossi’s last chance of staying in the race for a Champions League spot. Fans protested after two consecutive defeats and jeered their squad before kick-off, while Erik Lamela, Pablo Daniel Osvaldo and Daniele De Rossi were suspended. Bogdan Lobont stepped in for the injured Maarten Stekelenburg, while Bojan Krkic got a rare start in attack. Napoli’s Federico Fernandez replaced Hugo Campagnaro and Ezequiel Lavezzi was only fit for the bench.
A Francesco Totti low free kick was turned out for a corner at the base of the near post by Edinson Cavani in a defensive role. Napoli should’ve taken the lead on eight minutes when Camilo Zuniga was sent clear on the counter by Gokhan Inler, but the shot was deflected wide by Aleandro Rosi. From that corner, Fernandez hit a shot on the volley that was cleared off the line by Fernando Gago at the back post.
Fabio Borini prodded a Rodrigo Taddei cross wide of the near post after Bojan had come sliding in without making contact. Marek Hamsik burst past Simon Kjaer to test Lobont at the near post. Bojan did well to turn his marker, but there were no teammates ready to tap in the ball across the face of goal.
A screamer from Taddei almost took De Sanctis by surprise, but stung his palms to rebound into the box.
Moments later Totti tried from distance and this time De Sanctis pushed it into the path of Gago, who incredibly fired wide of an open goal from six yards! His Roma teammates stood with heads in hands, unable to understand how he had missed.
The Giallorossi were aiming a series of long-range efforts at the shaky De Sanctis, who also palmed a Bojan snapshot round the upright. Marquinho nodded over the bar and Borini scuffed an angled drive wide.
Roma did finally make the pressure count just before half-time. Rosi combined with Totti and got down the right, then pulled back for Marquinho to smash under the bar from six yards with the outside of his left foot.
The second half started on a controversial note, as Kjaer felt a corner was unfairly given against him, but replays suggested it was the correct decision. From that set play, Camilo Zuniga hit an absolute blockbuster from the edge of the box that flew past Lobont into the far top corner.
Roma fought back immediately and Marquinho smashed a fierce left-foot strike that skimmed the back stick.
Goran Pandev was introduced after his three-match ban expired and Napoli went very close, as Hamsik dragged back from the by-line and it took a deflection to scrape a coat of paint off the base of the far post. Christian Maggio’s first touch let him down when springing the offside trap and allowed Lobont to capture the ball.
Cavani cut in past Taddei and Lobont pushed it on to the side-netting, from that corner Inler’s powerful finish was beaten away by the goalkeeper with an acrobatic save. Napoli were now pouring forward in waves as Roma tried desperately to clear their lines.
Zuniga went close to a second when skipping past Rosi to curl over the bar from just inside the area. Maggio went clear on goal at the 66th minute, but opted to chip it and Lobont was able to flap it away from point-blank range.
Napoli completed the comeback moments later, as Pandev threaded through for Cavani and Kjaer stood off him, giving enough space to curl a magnificent right-foot finish around Lobont into the far top corner.
Bojan fired straight at De Sanctis, but was replaced by teenager Tallo, while Lavezzi made his comeback for Cavani. Substitute Lavezzi came diving in but just failed to get his head to Maggio’s cross.
Roma pushed forward more in the closing minutes and got on level terms when Tallo skipped back past Maggio at the by-line to cross for Fabio Simplicio’s volley from six yards. Both substitutes combined for the equaliser and Simplicio clambered into the stands to kiss his wife and child in celebration, earning an inevitable yellow card.