Dries Mertens scored two and forced an own goal as Napoli came from behind to win a 3-2 thriller away to Genoa.
The Partenopei needed a result to recapture the leadership from Inter, who beat Sampdoria 3-2 last night to temporarily go top of the table. Maurizio Sarri’s men had dropped points only once in Serie A this season, the 0-0 with Inter ending a run of eight straight wins. Genoa, on the other hand, felt they had turned a corner in recent weeks with a victory away to Cagliari and 0-0 draw against 10-man Milan. Aleandro Rosi, Isaac Cofie and Nicolas Spolli missed out for the hosts with Gianluca Lapadula still not fully fit.
The last time Napoli lost this fixture was in 2011-12, followed by three wins and two draws, but the last two seasons both ended 0-0.
Genoa took the lead within four minutes, as Adel Taarabt broke away from defenders to hit a scorcher of an angled drive in off the inside of the far post.
Napoli fought back and equalised with a marvellous free kick from Dries Mertens into the top corner. The little Belgian turned it around completely, as his first touch to trap a long Amadou Diawara ball was simply extraordinary, then blasting in off the underside of the bar from a tight angle.
The Partenopei took control and should’ve had a third, but Mattia Perin parried a Mertens strike, Marek Hamsik saw the rebound charged down from close range and the last Piotr Zielinski effort was wide.
They almost paid for these wasted chances, as just before the break Pepe Reina had to stick out a foot to deny Darko Lazovic the equaliser.
Lorenzo Insigne curled past the far top corner and Napoli got their third when Mertens ran on to an Insigne through ball and was trying to roll it towards Jose Callejon, but Ervin Zukanovic’s sliding attempt at a block got the final touch.
Genoa got back into it again, as Luca Rigoni’s ball flashed across the face of goal to find Armando Izzo – a Neapolitan – for a crouching header at the back post.
It was almost 3-3 moments later, as Rigoni’s pass over the top allowed Gianluca Lapadula to spring the offside trap and he fired over the bar.
Genoa were pouring forward to seek an equaliser and Reina was right behind a Taarabt curler, but Elseid Hysaj also stung Perin’s gloves late on.