Napoli were made to fight hard for a 2-1 victory away to SPAL, with Allan and Mario Rui on target, as Alex Meret was Man of the Match.
The Partenopei had to reshuffle amid an injury crisis ruling out Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, Adam Ounas, Nikola Maksimovic, Vlad Chiriches and David Ospina, so Piotr Zielinski was given a more advanced role. SPAL were already safe from relegation with three rounds to spare, but Jasmin Kurtic failed a fitness test.
Arkadiusz Milik had a double chance to open the scoring within six minutes, but his first bounced off the upright and Emiliano Viviano saved on the rebound.
Milik also turned a free header wide after springing the offside trap, but Andrea Petagna felt he deserved a penalty – or at least a VAR review – for the very risky last-gasp sliding Kalidou Koulibaly tackle.
Napoli threatened again, Mattia Valoti’s crucial challenge on Amin Younes, then a corner was flicked on for Milik at the back post, but Kevin Bonifazi made a decisive interception.
Petagna scuffed his volley into the arms of ex-SPAL goalkeeper Alex Meret and the hosts lost Simone Missiroli to injury, as he was struggling after a knock to the ribs.
Younes again went on a wonderful dribble through SPAL shirts only to hold on to it too long and fire wide, a recurring theme in his approach, while Jose Callejon also failed to keep his counter-attack on target.
Napoli broke through after the restart, as Allan’s first shot was charged down, but Younes knocked it back for a second attempt, curled beautifully into the far top corner from 11 yards.
Viviano’s gloves were stung by a Fabian Ruiz glancing header and Kevin Malcuit strike, both from corners, but SPAL saw Sergio Floccari’s tap-in ruled out for an earlier Mirko Antenucci offside position.
Former SPAL goalkeeper Meret performed a series of saves late on, denying Antenucci’s angled drive and a Floccari header, and the pressure eventually paid off when Sebastiano Luperto slipped on the wet turf, taking down Floccari. Meret got a hand to the Petagna penalty too, but it was too powerful to keep out the SPAL equaliser.
However, Napoli still had an unexpected ace up their sleeve with Mario Rui. The full-back completed a give-and-go with Callejon to burst into the box and smashed a left-foot rocket into the near top corner.
SPAL would not let this go and neither would Meret, who made a series of desperate saves on substitute Jankovic, then in one chaotic move Antenucci’s shot, the Floccari follow-up and two SPAL players collided on the rebound.
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