Napoli comfortably saw off Genoa 2-0 with Goran Pandev and Blerim Dzemaili despite Edinson Cavani’s saved penalty.
The Partenopei had the opportunity to extend their lead in second place after Milan were held by Fiorentina this morning, but Genoa were desperate for points because they were caught by Palermo and Siena in joint penultimate place. Morgan De Sanctis returned from injury, while Thomas Manfredini sat out a ban for Genoa, who fielded Neapolitans Ciro Immobile and Andrea Bertolacci up front.
Bertolacci stung the palms of De Sanctis after 90 seconds from distance, then Goran Pandev dribbled past two players to force a save out of Sebastien Frey. Daniele Portanova needed a large bandage after a clash of heads.
Pandev seemed fired up and blasted wide from the edge of the box, but it was only a taster for the opening goal. Edinson Cavani knocked it down for the Macedonian, whose shot from just inside the area took a deflection off Andreas Granqvist to lift it into the roof of the net past a helpless Frey.
There was chaos in the Genoa box with the ball pinging around and nobody able to get the final touch.
Napoli were dominant and doubled their advantage on the half-hour. Marek Hamsik went on the counter-attack and rolled through for Blerim Dzemaili’s fierce angled drive across Frey. It was the Swiss midfielder’s fourth goal in two games.
De Sanctis fumbled a Luca Antonelli cross and Hamsik went on a slalom, but only scuffed the finish on to Frey’s foot at the base of the near post from point-blank range. Immobile fired over on the counter-attack for Genoa.
Cavani nearly got Napoli’s third within 90 seconds of the restart after he dribbled past Granqvist, but Frey got just enough on the shot to turn it round the base of the near post.
De Sanctis blocked a long-range Bosko Jankovic free kick and Hamsik did everything well except the finish, which he scuffed wide. Genoa moved to a 4-3-3 by introducing Juan Manuel Vargas.
Cavani’s curler took a decisive deflection off Antonelli to go wide, then De Sanctis got down to palm a deflected Juraj Kucka snapshot round the base of the upright.
Kucka tripped Hamsik from behind when coming in late for a penalty. Cavani stepped up and confirmed his recent problems from the spot, as Frey parried the penalty to keep Genoa only 2-0 down.
Antonelli crucially intercepted a Hamsik cross with Cavani unmarked, then Immobile was booked for simulation as he jumped over the on-rushing De Sanctis when clear on goal.
Vargas drilled wide from distance and Frey again flew for a wonderful reaction save on Cavani’s header from a corner.
Frey continued his personal duel with Cavani, parrying his fierce volley with a combination of arm and chest in the final minutes. From that corner, El Matador blasted wide from 12 yards. With the last kick of the game, De Sanctis denied Immobile in his home town.
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Saved penalty: Cavani 66 (N)