Napoli swept 10-man Cagliari aside 3-0 at the San Paolo, but Marek Hamsik missed a penalty.
The Partenopei should’ve been celebrating, as they won the Coppa Italia by beating Fiorentina 3-1 and learned before kick-off that a Champions League preliminary round spot was now mathematically secure. However, all thoughts were for Ciro Esposito, the Napoli fan in critical condition after he was shot in Rome on Saturday.
Cagliari were already safe from the threat of relegation, but missed Mauricio Pinilla and Matias Cabrera through injury. Giandomenico Mesto got his first start since November.
After just three minutes Napoli somehow failed to score, as the ball ricocheted around the six-yard box with at least three different efforts charged down.
Nicola Murru drilled straight at Pepe Reina, but the hosts had a great double opportunity. Blerim Dzemaili’s long-range screamer was palmed on to the crossbar by goalkeeper Silvestri, who moments later fingertipped another Dzemaili attempt round the base of the near post.
Federico Fernandez thought he had scored with a looping header, but Silvestri was beaten and Pisano came to the rescue with a goalline clearance.
The pressure eventually paid off when Daniele Conti was booked for hauling back Goran Pandev in the box. Dries Mertens converted the penalty into the near bottom corner, despite Silvestri getting the right side. It was a fine way to celebrate the Belgian’s 27th birthday.
Silvestri smothered a Gokhan Inler snapshot, while a splendid Jose Callejon first touch was not turned into a goal thanks to a crucial block.
Napoli doubled their advantage just before the break, as Davide Astori’s clearance was intercepted by Callejon, who volleyed across for Pandev to come sliding in.
Cagliari threatened in stoppages, as Luca Rossettini’s header was deflected inches wide from a corner. Reina was at full stretch to fingertip an Agim Ibraimi cross-shot out from under the bar.
Reina had a slight muscular problem, so made way for 38-year-old Roberto Colombo over the half-time break, as Rafael is also injured. It was his first official appearance in a Napoli jersey, his first competitive game since playing for Triestina in Serie B in May 2011.
It was another goalkeeper who hit the headlines, as Silvestri brought down Pandev after skipping past Astori for an inevitable penalty and red card. Marek Hamsik was hoping to get his first goal since November, but thumped the spot-kick against the crossbar.
Colombo got down to block a Marco Sau angled drive at the near post, but from that move Napoli went on the counter to score a third. Vlada Avramov parried a Pandev shot into the path of Dzemaili to fire in the rebound.
Avramov palmed another Hamsik effort round the base of the upright, then Duvan Zapata didn’t get on the end of a Mertens assist on the counter. The move continued and Hamsik’s angled drive was again pushed away one-handed.
Zapata had another chance to get the fourth, but it was cleared off the line by Gabriel Perico from point-blank range.
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Sent off: Silvestri 54 (C)
Missed penalty: Hamsik 55 (N)