SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 8 - 15 Oct 2016 (14.00 UK)
Napoli 1 - 3 Roma
Dzeko 43, 54 (R), Koulibaly 59 (N), Salah 85 (R)
Stadio San Paolo

Roma leapfrogged into second place with a surprising 3-1 victory away to Napoli, as Edin Dzeko struck twice before Mohamed Salah’s closer.

Napoli were unbeaten on home turf in Serie A since May 2015. Under Maurizio Sarri they had notched up 19 wins and three draws.

The Derby del Sole was played in scorching heat, 25 degrees Centigrade and rising despite it being mid-October, while only one point separated these sides in the fight for second place. It was the first game since Arkadiusz Milik was ruled out for four to six months by a ruptured ACL, while Nikola Maksimovic stepped in for injured Raul Albiol. The visitors missed Kevin Strootman and Bruno Peres with long-term absentees Thomas Vermaelen, Mario Rui and Antonio Rudiger.

Roma seemed almost to be playing three at the back, moving Alessadro Florenzi into a more advanced wide role. Lorenzo Insigne’s free kick flashed inches wide of the far post in the opening minutes and Edin Dzeko volleyed over from a Diego Perotti cross.

Dzeko sprung the offside trap to go clear on goal, but Kalidou Koulibaly sprinted back for a decisive clean tackle in the penalty area.

Faouzi Ghoulam rolled across the six-yard box, but neither Manolo Gabbiadini nor Wojciech Szczesny got a touch to it. Perotti then curled inches past the far top corner with a right-foot special.

Kostas Manolas charged down three shots in quick succession from Jose Callejon, Insigne and Marek Hamsik. Mohamed Salah’s inspired slide-rule pass sent Dzeko unmarked into the box, but Pepe Reina was alert to smother at his feet.

Wojciech Szczesny’s gloves were stung at the near post by a Ghoulam snapshot, but Roma took the lead on the stroke of half-time after a Koulibaly howler.

The Senegal international was caught in possession at the by-line by Salah, who immediately swung in a cross for Dzeko to volley home from 12 yards. It was the first goal the Bosnian has scored away from home this season.

The Giallorossi started the second half aggressively and doubled their lead with another mass defensive error. Florenzi curled a long free kick to the back post, as Reina hesitated and was caught in no man’s land, allowing Dzeko to nod in. The former Manchester City striker didn’t even have to jump, not that he could’ve done with Elseid Hysaj wrapped around his neck.

Dries Mertens replaced Gabbiadini as a False 9 (after somehow getting booked for dissent while warming up) and Napoli immediately got back into the game. Koulibaly made up for his earlier mistake with a towering header on a corner, bouncing in off the inside of the far post.

Napoli laid siege to Szczesny’s goalmouth, Callejon just failing to get on the end of a Mertens low cross, while Salah volleyed a Perotti assist over the bar, but the heat and tempo took its toll with several players collapsing due to cramp.

Ghoulam’s free kick was straight into the wall, but just as Napoli were giving it their all to get an equaliser, Salah sprung the offside trap in the final third and kept his cool to sweep the angled drive into the far bottom corner with the inside of his left foot.

Szczesny flew for a fingertip save on Mertens’ curler from the edge of the box, but the final stages were end to end stuff. First Reina beat away a Stephan El Shaarawy counter set up by Salah, then Jorginho ballooned over the bar undisturbed from 12 yards on a poor Szczesny parry.

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Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik (Zielinski 81); Callejon (El Kaddouri 76), Gabbiadini (Mertens 57), Insigne
Roma: Szczesny; Florenzi, Manolas, Fazio, Juan Jesus (Emerson Palmieri 70); De Rossi, Paredes; Salah, Nainggolan (El Shaarawy 79), Perotti (Gerson 90); Dzeko
Ref: Orsato