Napoli fought back twice to snatch a 3-2 victory against Fabio Quagliarella’s Sampdoria with Marek Hamsik surpassing Diego Maradona’s record.
The Serie A leaders welcomed back Lorenzo Insigne from a groin injury, leaving only Arkadiusz Milik and Faouzi Ghoulam as long-term absentees. Samp missed Karol Linetty and Ricky Alvarez, while former Napoli striker Duvan Zapata was carrying an injury, so Gianluca Caprari started with hometown boy Fabio Quagliarella. It was an emotional return to the Stadio San Paolo, his first since revealing the reason he left the club in 2010 was due to a stalker nightmare that he kept secret for years.
The last time Samp won away to Napoli was April 1998, followed by four draws and eight defeats between Serie A and B.
It was a shock start for the San Paolo crowd, as Gaston Ramirez unleashed a missile of a free kick from a good 35 metres out and Pepe Reina was taken by surprise in the near top corner, but he really should’ve done better.
Jose Callejon volleyed a long Insigne cross at the back post, forcing a save with Emiliano Viviano’s legs, then Dries Mertens skimmed the upright with a stunning chest and volley on the spin from 20 metres out.
They did equalise when Callejon sprung the offside trap on a Mertens ball over the top and his volley was straight at Viviano, but Allan followed it up.
Ramirez was on fire and shrugged off Elseid Hysaj once, but was brought down the second time. Hometown boy Quagliarella converted the penalty to restore Samp’s lead, but did not celebrate.
Quagliagol almost had another soon after, his angled drive whistling just wide, but Insigne marked his comeback with a goal, as Samp lost possession in their final third and Mertens flicked it up for an Insigne volley.
The game was turned around completely and made history too, as Allan battled in the box to set up Mertens, who put it back across for Hamsik to tap in. It was his 116th goal in a Napoli jersey, leaving behind Diego Armando Maradona on 115.
Quagliarella had the ball in the back of the net again, but was clearly offside.
Ramirez continued to wreak havoc in the Napoli defence, while Viviano wandered off his line and was booked for running into Allan near the corner flag.
Quagliarella blasted wide after another Hysaj howler and was then given a fully-deserved standing ovation by the Napoli fans.
It still wasn’t over, as Napoli went down to 10 men because Mario Rui completely mistimed his sliding tackle on substitute Dawid Kownacki when already on a yellow card.
Viviano beat away a Mertens free kick at the near post and Caprari’s volley from a corner was charged down.
Sent off: Mario Rui 77 (N)