Serie A Week 22 - content); ?>
Napoli 3 - 1 Bologna
Palacio 1 (B), Mbaye og 5 (N), Mertens pen 37, 59 (N)
Stadio San Paolo

Rodrigo Palacio had put Bologna in front after 25 seconds, but Napoli came back with a Dries Mertens brace – including a soft penalty.

The Partenopei knew they needed a victory to stay top of the table, as Juventus had already beaten nine-man Chievo last night. Raul Albiol was out injured with Faouzi Ghoulam and Arkadiusz Milik, so Vlad Chiriches stepped in. This was a very odd game for Simone Verdi, who rejected a transfer to Napoli this month and was therefore in for a rough ride from the home crowd. Giancarlo Gonzalez, Angelo Da Costa and Vasilis Torosidis missed out.

Napoli won the last four meetings with Bologna, home and away, scoring 19 goals and conceding two. The most recent Serie A victory for the Rossoblu in Naples was a 3-2 thriller in December 2012, followed by three consecutive losses.

It was a wild start, because within 25 seconds Rodrigo Palacio had been left relatively unmarked to nod in a Federico Di Francesco cross at the back post.

Moments later, Verdi pulled up with a suspected thigh strain and had to be replaced by Ladislav Krejci.

Napoli then equalised on a corner, as Mario Rui’s cross was deflected off Palacio and Ibrahima M’Baye shinned into his own net from a yard when attempting to clear.

Elseid Hysaj’s brave header stopped Adam Masina tapping in at the back post and Jose Callejon wasted a promising opportunity when sent clear by Dries Mertens, but Kalidou Koulibaly charged down Palacio’s shot and Mario Rui got the rebound from Blerim Dzemaili. There were penalty appeals, but VAR showed it struck Koulibaly on the thigh.

Pepe Reina rushed off his line to close down Palacio, while Lorenzo Insigne didn’t get enough power to the Mertens assist.

Napoli turned the game around amid controversy, as Masina was penalised for the tiniest of tugs on the back of Callejon’s collar. Mertens converted the soft penalty.

There were no complaints about the third goal, as Allan sparked the counter-attack and Mertens cut inside down the left flank for a splendid right-foot curler into the far top corner.

Bologna kept Napoli on their toes to the end, as Reina parried a Masina half-volley at the near post from a set play.

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Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Koulibaly, Chiriches, Mario Rui; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik (Zielinski 66); Callejon, Mertens, Insigne (Rog 80)
Bologna: Mirante; Mbaye, De Maio, Helander, Masina; Poli (Donsah 82), Pulgar, Dzemaili; Verdi (Krejci 5), Palacio (Destro 73), Di Francesco
Ref: Mazzoleni