SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 31 - 7 Apr 2019 (19.30 UK)
Napoli 1 - 1 Genoa
Mertens 34 (N), Lazovic 45+3 (G)
Stadio San Paolo

Stefano Sturaro saw red and Genoa were down to 10 men for an hour, but Napoli could not go beyond a 1-1 draw at the San Paolo.

The Partenopei knew a defeat here would mathematically crown Juventus Champions of Italy with seven rounds to spare, as the Bianconeri already beat Milan 2-1 last night. This result means Juve can celebrate the Scudetto with a draw next week.

Lorenzo Insigne was only fit for the bench, with Amadou Diawara, Simone Verdi and Raul Albiol out, but Faouzi Ghoulam made his comeback after three weeks. Cristian Romero and Ervin Zukanovic were suspended for the visitors, so Domenico Criscito moved to centre-back.

Both sides suffered painful midweek defeats, Napoli losing to Empoli and Genoa crushed 4-0 by Inter after that early Romero red card.

In the opening couple of minutes, Dries Mertens had forced Koray Gunter into a desperate tackle and Arkadiusz Milik blasted just over with his weaker right foot. Ervin Zukanovic prevented Jose Callejon’s volleyed cut-back from the by-line reaching Milik for a tap-in.

At the other end, Christian Kouame pounced on a Fabian Ruiz back-pass and set up Pandev, whose attempted dink over on-rushing Orestis Karnezis did not pay off.

Milik couldn’t get on the end of another Callejon assist, but Pandev was very lively in his old hunting ground and a curler from the edge of the box forced Karnezis into a very strong one-handed save on the line.

Stefano Sturaro was booked initially for a challenge on Allan, but after viewing it again on VAR, the referee changed his decision to a straight red. It’s easy to see why, because it was studs up, sideways in and mid-shin height. For the second game in four days, Genoa went down to 10 men in the first half.

Nonetheless, the Grifone kept pushing and Karnezis fingertipped a Christian Kouame curler over the bar. However, Mertens put Napoli in front with a fierce right-foot strike from 20-25 metres out that flew into the near bottom corner past Ionut Radu’s glove.

Genoa poured forward and moments later, Koray Gunter’s header from a corner bounced off the upright with Karnezis beaten.

Karnezis then had to scramble across for a great save when Davide Biraschi hit the rebound from a free kick on the half-volley, a dangerous dipping shot from distance.

Mertens set up a golden opportunity for Callejon in first half stoppages, but the Spaniard’s angled drive was brilliantly saved with one hand by Ionut Radu.

Moments later, Genoa got a thoroughly deserved equaliser. On-form Pandev floated a perfect ball to the back stick for the sensational Darko Lazovic volley back across Karnezis.

Piotr Zielinski ballooned over from eight yards on a Callejon cross, while Radu just about stopped a Milik header crossing the line and Zielinski over-hit the pass for Allan.

Insigne made his comeback after a month out through injury and almost created a great goal for Milik, but the Pole couldn’t reach the floated pass over the top.

For all their dominance, Napoli ran risks at the back, with Karnezis making a reaction save from close range on Maksimovic and Kouame as they met a Pedro Pereira cross, then Rolon drilled wide from the resulting corner.

Ionut Radu needed two desperate saves in quick succession during the final minutes, first with his outstretched foot on Kalidou Koulibaly, then again using his legs on a deflected Mertens curler that was looping inwards.

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Napoli: Karnezis; Hysaj (Ounas 87), Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Ghoulam (Mario Rui 77); Callejon, Allan (Insigne 67), Fabian, Zielinski; Mertens, Milik
Genoa: Radu; Biraschi, Gunter, Criscito, Pereira; Sturaro, Veloso (Radovanovic 77), Bessa (Pezzella 82), Lazovic; Kouame, Pandev (Rolon 62)
Ref: Pasqua

Sent off: Sturaro 28 (G)