Napoli pummelled Pescara in the second half for a 3-0 victory that means the Juventus Scudetto party is postponed.
Edinson Cavani and Valon Behrami were suspended, so Lorenzo Insigne led out Napoli against his former club, as he shot to fame last season taking Pescara from promotion in Serie B, scoring 18 goals and providing 14 assists. Morgan De Sanctis was also back against his old side after a ban and played despite a knock to the right elbow in the warm-up.
Pescara were propping up the table, but fresh from holding Roma to a 1-1 draw. Gaetano D’Agostino, Per Kroldrup, Vladimir Weiss, Juan Fernando Quintero, Francesco Modesto and Manuele Blasi missed out, so Federico Di Francesco – the teenage son of Sassuolo Coach Eusebio – had his first Serie A start.
Insigne’s early angled drive flashed wide and Pescara forced a couple of corners through Di Francesco and Antonio Rizzo.
Insigne thought he had opened the scoring after 14 minutes when his angled drive went in off the inside of the far post, but the linesman ruled it offside as he felt Blerim Dzemaili had got the final touch rather than Antonio Balzano. He had refused to celebrate against his old fans, anyway.
Marek Hamsik’s chip was flapped out from under the bar by an acrobatic Ivan Pelizzoli save, then Dzemaili drilled wide from distance.
Pelizzoli flew again to palm an Insigne free header round the post, then from that corner Miguel Angel Britos nodded past the far upright.
Hamsik drilled inches wide from Insigne’s pull-back and Pelizzoli got down well to beat away a fierce Dzemaili free kick, as Marco Capuano scrambled it clear before Insigne could tap in the rebound.
Pescara almost scored on the counter-attack, as Giuseppe Sculli fired over from a tight angle on the edge of the six-yard box. Soon after, De Sanctis leapt to smother a dipping Di Francesco strike.
Napoli broke through 41 seconds after the restart, as Gokhan Inler smacked a shot from outside the box that took a huge deflection off Capuano to wrong-foot Pelizzoli.
The goalkeeper smothered a Pandev effort and Ferdinando Sforzini’s header landed on the roof of the Napoli net. Hamsik got to the by-line and pulled back for Pandev, who side-footed meekly into Pelizzoli’s arms. Pescara again threatened, De Sanctis smothering a smart Sculli glancing header on the line.
Napoli doubled their lead 30 seconds later. Christian Maggio pulled back to the penalty spot, where Pandev with his back to goal spun round with the first touch and placed the finish into the far bottom corner.
Insigne should’ve scored, but ballooned over the bar from a very promising position. More bad news for Pescara, as Pelizzoli limped off with a groin strain to make way for Mattia Perin.
De Sanctis needed a fingertip to take the Sculli header away from Capuano for a corner, while Perin parried a Pablo Armero strike at the near post.
Insigne again went so close, sprinting on to a ball through the middle after the Uros Cosic error and dragging his shot inches past the upright.
It was Dzemaili who got the third goal, unleashing one of his trademark right-foot rockets from distance that flew into the near top corner with little hope for Perin.
Pescara almost got one back with Emmanuel Cascione’s cushioned header across the face of goal, skimming the far post. Dzemaili attempted an acrobatic and audacious volley, but it went over.
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk