Jose Callejon’s brace and an historic Marek Hamsik strike gave Napoli victory in Palermo, spoiling Coach Roberto De Zerbi’s debut.
The hosts made their debut under new Coach De Zerbi, although due to a touchline ban it was assistant manager Davide Possanzini on the bench. Without Robin Quaison and Michel Morganella, he revamped the side with youngsters Carlos Embalo and Roland Sallai flanking debutant False Nine Alessandro Diamanti.
The Partenopei had scored six goals in two games, but also conceded four and rested Dries Mertens, Elseid Hysaj and Allan ahead of the Champions League opener with Dinamo Kiev, so Lorenzo Insigne, Piotr Zielinski and Christian Maggio got rare starts.
Insigne burst past a defender and pulled back for Arek Milik, but Slobodan Rajkovic got a decisive block. On the resulting corner, Raul Albiol horribly ballooned a volley over at the back post from six yards.
Insigne’s curler stung Josip Posavec’s gloves and Milik took one too many touches on a low cross from the left. The Poland international just failed to get his head to an Insigne cross, perhaps because he was nudged in the back.
Moments later Embalo went down too easily under an Insigne nudge in the box after Diamanti’s cross-field pass. Milik seemed a little isolated from his teammates and crowded out by defenders in the box.
Jose Callejon volleyed over from a promising position, as did Zielinski on the Spaniard’s knock-back. Palermo introduced Nestorovski for the second half as a centre-forward, moving Diamanti wide right of the trident.
However, it was Napoli who broke the deadlock when Faouzi Ghoulam sprung the offside trap down the left on a Zielinski pass and pulled back for Marek Hamsik, the Slovak letting it bounce before firing into the near top corner from 11 yards. It was Hamsik’s 82nd Serie A goal for Napoli, one more than club legend Diego Armando Maradona.
Palermo were shaken and Maurizio Sarri’s half-time team talk evidently worked, because Insigne curled in a cross from the left for Callejon’s cushioned header at the back post.
Bruno Henrique made his Serie A debut and almost scored within 60 seconds, getting between centre-backs for a glancing header wide from Andrea Rispoli.
Zielinski rode a tackle and rolled across for Callejon, whose daisy-cutter squirmed through the arms of 20-year-old goalkeeper Posavec for Napoli’s third.
Manolo Gabbiadini came off the bench and almost scored straight away, the offside trap failing again, but Posavec got just about enough on the angled drive.
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