Gonzalo Higuain’s brace, Goran Pandev and Jose Callejon gave Napoli a 4-2 victory away to struggling Lazio, their first here in five years.
Both sides were in dire need of a boost, as the Biancocelesti had just three draws from their last four Serie A games, while Napoli had lost three on the bounce in all competition. Miroslav Klose, Giuseppe Biava, Stefano Mauri, Marek Hamsik, Juan Camilo Zuniga and Giandomenico Mesto were still out of action, so Brayan Perea got a rare start for the hosts.
In the opening five minutes Antonio Candreva went very close, as his shot flashed across the face of goal to skim the back post with Pepe Reina beaten.
Hernanes and Jose Maria Callejon tested the goalkeepers, while Abdoulay Konko blasted not far wide.
Napoli had been relatively quiet in the opening 23 minutes, but took the lead with a moment of brilliance from Gonzalo Higuain. He burst through the middle of the Lazio defence, held off Michael Ciani and rolled it under Federico Marchetti. It was Pipita’s first Serie A goal from open play since September 22.
That situation lasted all of 60 seconds, as a Candreva cross from the right was not dealt with and after a series of ricochets it was Valon Behrami who accidentally poked into his own net against his former team.
Goran Pandev – another ex-Lazio man – also forced a save out of Marchetti. The goalkeeper parried a Lorenzo Insigne shot into the path of Higuain to score, but the Argentine was offside when the first effort came in.
Hernanes failed to make the most of a lucky ricochet that sent him one-on-one with Reina, losing his footing to scuff off target. Candreva disposessed Pablo Armero to surge forward, but the angle was too narrow and his shot could only flash across Reina.
Just 90 seconds after the restart, Hernanes saw his strike swerve away from the upright, then Gokhan Inler’s attempt from distance was also wide.
There was controversy when Napoli restored their advantage, as the free kick was a dubious decision. Nonetheless, from that set play Lazio’s defending was poor, as Christian Maggio knocked down a cross for Pandev to spin from six yards against his former club.
Higuain sprung the offside trap and nutmegged Marchetti at the near post, but the finish only flashed all the way across an open goal.
Senad Lulic fired straight at Reina after hesitating and Stefan Radu blasted wide, but Napoli were more ruthless with their chances.
Higuain ran on to a Pandev through ball and smashed it under the bar to give the visitors a 3-1 lead.
Napoli seemed to be waltzing towards a comfortable win when Keita Balde got Lazio back into it. The former Barcelona teenager sprinted across the defence and kept his cool to blast into the near top corner.
Lazio were pouring forward in order to get a last-gasp equaliser, but this left spaces at the back and Dries Mertens won back possession by tackling Ciani to set up Jose Maria Callejon’s well-taken strike.
It was Napoli’s first Serie A victory against Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico since October 2008.
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