It was an absolutely extraordinary 3-3 draw at the Mapei Stadium with two late penalties, Sassuolo rattling the woodwork twice and a Napoli goal disallowed.
The Partenopei got back on track with a win over Benevento and Dries Mertens marked his return with a goal, but Victor Osimhen, Hirving Lozano, Andrea Petagna and suspended Kalidou Koulibaly missed the trip, with Kostas Manolas only fit for the bench. The hosts were without Jeremie Boga, Medhi Bourabia, Vlad Chiriches and Filippo Romagna, but took an aggressive approach with a front four and Maxime Lopez in midfield.
Alex Meret had to make the first save with his legs on Domenico Berardi’s angled drive after a rapid counter-attack.
Lorenzo Insigne had the ball in the net with a wonderful solo effort, curling right-footed into the far top corner from a tricky angle, but the goal was disallowed on 21 minutes for his offside position.
Sassuolo continued to dominate possession, though, and Gregoire Defrel just failed to get on the end of a Berardi through ball under pressure from Giovanni Di Lorenzo, but timid penalty appeals were waved away.
Instead, the hosts broke the deadlock when Berardi whipped a free kick into the crowd and Nikola Maksimovic got the final touch to flick it into his own net.
Napoli got the equaliser with another classy finish, as Piotr Zielinski gathered in the D and picked his spot to curl left-footed into the bottom corner.
On the stroke of half-time, Elseid Hysaj went through the back of Francesco Caputo in an unnecessary and clumsy challenge. Berardi converted the penalty, even though Meret did get something on it.
Meret also had to make a tricky save on Defrel after the restart, then Maksimovic nodded a Mertens dinked assist over from six yards.
The Napoli goalkeeper had to be alert when pushing the ball off Caputo’s feet and then readjusting to parry the Filip Djuricic follow-up.
Defrel had to do some defending on a well-worked Napoli free kick routine that set up Insigne for a volley, but during a period of good Napoli pressure, Sassuolo almost added a third with the absolutely ferocious Berardi rocket that smashed against the bar on 69 minutes.
Barely 90 seconds later, Sassuolo rattled the woodwork again, this time with Caputo’s strike off the upright.
Luck was on Napoli’s side there, because they equalised moments after that when Insigne got down the left and laid the assist off on a silver platter for Giovanni Di Lorenzo, who just had to prod it over the line.
It was suddenly end-to-end stuff, Sassuolo seeing two shots charged down, then Fabian Ruiz forcing a sensational one-handed Andrea Consigli save following Ferrari’s error.
In the final minute, the referee awarded a very soft penalty when Di Lorenzo dribbled into the box and seemed to almost stop in front of Lukas Haraslin, so bumping into the back of him was inevitable. Contact was minimal, but Insigne converted a well-taken spot-kick by sending Consigli the wrong way.
It still wasn’t over, because with the last kick of the game, Kostas Manolas marked his comeback by proving he is nowhere near fit and bundled Haraslin over in the box for a Sassuolo penalty. Caputo held his nerve to convert for a 3-3 thriller.
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