SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 17 - 16 Dec 2017 (17.00 UK)
Torino 1 - 3 Napoli
Koulibaly 4 (N), Zielinski 25 (N), Hamsik 30 (N), Belotti 63 (T)
Stadio Grande Torino

Napoli have recaptured the top of the Serie A table with a commanding 3-1 victory away to Torino, including Marek Hamsik’s record-breaking goal.

The Partenopei are the new leaders, as Inter surprisingly lost to Udinese at San Siro in the early kick-off. Lorenzo Insigne was still not risked from the start due to a groin strain, with Arkadiusz Milik and Faouzi Ghoulam injured, so Piotr Zielinski again started in the trident attack. Toro ended their dry run with a controversial 3-1 victory away to 10-man Lazio on Monday night, but Cristian Ansaldi and Umar Sadiq were sidelined with Adem Ljajic again dropped due to poor behaviour. Mirko Valdifiori faced his former club and Alex Berenguer was very close to joining Napoli before he opted for Torino.

The Granata have lost nine of their last 10 meetings with Napoli, ties that provided a total 38 goals.

It took just under four minutes to open the scoring, as Jorginho’s corner was knocked on by Allan for a Kalidou Koulibaly header.

They almost repeated it soon after, but this time the defender at full stretch couldn’t reach it at the far post, while Andrea Belotti only grazed his head to the Iago Falque cross.

Dries Mertens dribbled past three defenders only for his angled drive to skim the far post and the Granata tried to create some pressure, but were caught out by a Jorginho pass through the canyon in the centre of their defence, allowing Zielinski to beat Salvatore Sirigu one-on-one.

The third goal was very special indeed, as it allowed Hamsik to equal Diego Armando Maradona’s all-time club record of 115 goals in the Napoli jersey. It was a well-worked effort too, as Mertens controlled a ball over the top with a smart touch, turned Nicolas N’Koulou and rolled back for Hamsik to smash into the roof of the net from 14 yards.

The hosts did create a chance to pull one back on the stroke of half-time, but Daniele Baselli came sliding in at the far post and couldn’t keep Iago Falque’s cross in.

Sinisa Mihajlovic introduced Ljajic for the second half, moving to a 4-2-3-1 formation. Nicolas N’Koulou’s header looped off target and Callejon had the ball in the net only after he’d wandered offside.

Hamsik nearly got his 116th goal for Napoli, a curler inches past the top corner from the edge of the box. Instead, Belotti broke his goal drought with a daisy-cutter into the near bottom corner, though Pepe Reina was very slow to get down to it.

Allan was sent clear by Mertens moments later, only for Cristian Molinaro to time his tackle perfectly in a one-on-one situation.

It was suddenly wide open, Iago Falque’s effort bouncing off Reina’s chest and a Ljajic free kick just wide, then substitute Insigne’s curler was perhaps going in anyway when Callejon got the final touch in an offside position.

Mertens thought he’d scored the fourth when Allan rolled across, but he lost his footing and accidentally kicked the ball on to his other foot, looping over the bar from six yards.

Ljajic suffered a suspected thigh strain moments after Torino completed their substitutions, so left them down to 10 men. There should've been a fourth goal late on, but N'Koulou got back for a decisive interception on Callejon's assist for Mertens.


Torino: Sirigu; De Silvestri, Nkoulou, Burdisso, Molinaro; Baselli, Valdifiori (Ljajic 46), Rincon; Falque (Edera 77), Belotti, Berenguer (Niang 65)
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Koulibaly, Albiol, Mario Rui; Allan, Jorginho (Diawara 76), Hamsik (Rog 83); Callejon, Mertens, Zielinski (Insigne 70)
Ref: Mazzoleni