Serie A Week 29 - 18 Mar 2018 (19.45 UK)
Napoli 1 - 0 Genoa
Albiol 72 (N)
Stadio San Paolo

Napoli closed the gap at the top of the table to just two points, as Raul Albiol's first goal in two years eventually saw off Genoa.

The Partenopei were given a Scudetto lifeline last night, as SPAL held Juventus to a draw, meaning a win here would close the gap to just two points. Maurizio Sarri’s men needed to get back on track after one point from the last two matches against Roma and Inter. Vlad Chiriches and Faouzi Ghoulam were still sidelined, while Genoa missed Armando Izzo and Miguel Veloso.

Genoa haven’t beaten Napoli since a 3-2 result at Marassi in January 2012, managing three stalemates in 12 meetings, home and away. Their last success at the San Paolo was 1-0 in February 2009.

Darko Lazovic went on a strong run down the right and shrugged off Kalidou Koulibaly, but opted for the shot and hit the side-netting rather than a cross.

Andrea Bertolacci’s scorcher swung just wide, but Dries Mertens curled inches wide of the far post with Jose Callejon screaming for an assist.

There was bad news for Napoli, as captain Marek Hamsik called to the bench and went off after feeling a thigh twinge, making way for Piotr Zielinski.

Genoa continued to prove dangerous on the counter with Oscar Hiljemark and from the resulting corner Nicolas Spolli was allowed a free header to skim the upright from six yards.

Allan had a huge opportunity to give Napoli the lead on 40 minutes when set up by Mertens, but slipped under pressure from Ervin Zukanovic and blasted over from seven yards.

Napoli stepped up the pressure towards half-time and Lorenzo Insigne was unlucky when a rare header from a corner looped up to bounce off the crossbar with Mattia Perin beaten.

Mertens was also left cursing his fortune after the restart, as a snooker shot from the edge of the box bounced off the inside of the post and back out.

Another Mertens chance whistled just over with a delicate lob, but Goran Pandev wasted a promising chance set up for him by Andrey Galabinov and Pepe Reina smothered from substitute Adel Taarabt.

The deadlock was finally broken from a set play, as Callejon whipped in a corner and Raul Albiol’s glancing header at the near post flew past everyone. It was his first Serie A goal since January 2016 against Frosinone and a fine way to mark his 200th appearance in a Napoli jersey.

Arkadiusz Milik came off the bench, but a misunderstanding with Callejon meant neither of them took advantage of an Insigne cross into the box.

Milik made the right choice soon after, rolling across for Insigne to beat on-rushing Perin, but Biraschi sprinted back in time for a goal-line clearance.

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Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik (Zielinski 20); Callejon (Rog 85), Mertens (Milik 81), Insigne
Genoa: Perin; Biraschi, Spolli, Zukanovic; Rosi (Rossi 78), Lazovic (Taarabt 61), Bertolacci, Hiljemark, Laxalt; Pandev (Rigoni 67), Galabinov
Ref: Pasqua