SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 19 - 29 Dec 2018 (17.00 UK)
Napoli 3 - 2 Bologna
Milik 16, 51 (N), Santander 37 (B), Danilo 80 (B), Mertens 88 (N)
Stadio San Paolo

Bologna put up a huge fight at the Stadio San Paolo, but Arkadiusz Milik’s brace and a late Dries Mertens strike secured Napoli’s 3-2 win.

The Partenopei were still fuming after their last-gasp defeat to Inter, as Kalidou Koulibaly was subjected to racist abuse throughout until losing his temper with a red card, swiftly followed by Lorenzo Insigne, and both began two-match bans. Marek Hamsik was also injured. Pippo Inzaghi was clinging to the Bologna bench despite sitting in the relegation zone, knowing the Rossoblu had lost their last five meetings with Napoli.

Andrea Poli’s angled drive flashed inches away from both the far post and Federico Santander sliding in, but Napoli took the lead when Mertens and Milik both went for the same ball, there were several ricochets and the Pole eventually prodded in from 10 yards.

A sensational Lukasz Skorupski flying fingertip save took the Mertens right-foot curler out of the far top corner, while Milik turned a couple of dangerous headers inches off target.

Bologna snatched an equaliser from a set play, as a free kick was flicked on by Palacio for Federico Santander’s twisting header at the near top corner. It was remarkable he managed to score when limping very badly and eventually had to come off for Diego Falcinelli.

Kevin Malcuit and Faouzi Ghoulam put a few dangerous balls across the face of goal with nobody able to finish them, but Bologna went close too, as Falcinelli was just unable to get his head to the Mitchell Dijks cross from a couple of yards.

Jose Callejon continued his poor form by prodding a deflected corner straight at the goalkeeper, but Milik got his second of the game by shrugging off his marker to nod in Malcuit’s cross from the right.

Bologna did not give in and Palacio’s glancing header from a Federico Mattiello cross whistled just wide, but Milik saw his hat-trick denied by Skorupski’s foot at the near post.

The Mertens volley into the ground was deflected off Filip Helander to spin just wide of the far post with Skorupski scrambling.

However, Bologna equalised through another dead-ball situation, this time Danilo out-jumping Raul Albiol to meet a Pulgar free kick from six yards with only 10 minutes left on the clock.

Mertens came to the rescue with his 10th career goal against Bologna. He cut inside and unleashed a powerful snapshot from 20 metres that bounced right in front of Skorupski, squirming under his arm at the near bottom corner.

It still wasn’t over, as Napoli again struggled on set plays with a series of Bologna corners creating panic. Mario Rui acrobatically made an over-head kick goal-line clearance to keep out the Palacio header, then Alex Meret parried a Danilo attempt at the back stick.

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Napoli: Meret; Malcuit, Maksimovic, Albiol, Ghoulam (Mario Rui 68); Callejon (Ounas 83), Allan, Zielinski, Verdi (Fabian Ruiz 57); Milik, Mertens
Bologna: Skorupski; De Maio, Danilo, Helander, Mattiello; Dijks, Pulgar, Poli (Orsolini 78), Svanberg (Nagy 70); Santander (Falcinelli 42), Palacio
Ref: Calvarese