Lorenzo Insigne bagged a brace and Dries Mertens converted a very contentious penalty as Napoli swept Crotone aside 3-0.
The Partenopei had to focus after their midweek Champions League exit to Real Madrid and made numerous changes, including rare starts for Marko Rog and Leonardo Pavoletti. Crotone had Claiton Dos Santos injured, Aleandro Rosi and Federico Ceccherini suspended.
These sides also met four times in Serie B, Napoli earning two wins, a draw and a 2-1 defeat at the Scida in March 2007.
Jose Callejon’s cross-shot was fingertipped over the bar, then the Spaniard came sliding in just unable to meet Lorenzo Insigne’s cross-field pass.
Alex Cordaz flew to palm an Insigne curler out from the far top corner, but Crotone were dangerous on the counter and Marcello Trotta’s angled drive skimmed the base of the far post.
Insigne did well to shield the ball, so when Mario Sampirisi nudged him from behind, the striker went over to earn a penalty. The local lad converted it himself into the near bottom corner to give Napoli the lead.
Callejon got on the end of another long ball from Insigne, but once again failed to beat the goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation. Marko Rog also went close, his finish skimming the woodwork from a tight angle.
After the restart, the visitors had two great chances to equalise. First Diego Falcinelli sprung the offside trap and his shot essentially hit Pepe Reina, then on the counter Noe Dussenne’s finish was too weak to trouble the goalkeeper.
Pavoletti wasted the chance to get his first Napoli goal, incredibly nodding over from point-blank range on a Kalidou Koulibaly cross.
Crotone Coach Davide Nicola was sent off for dissent, as Rog was very fortunate to avoid a red card. Crotone threatened to equalise on the hour mark, as Ivan Strinic had to acrobatically clear a corner almost off the line before Diego Falcinelli could pounce.
Marek Hamsik received a very soft penalty indeed, as he appeared to go looking for contact with Dussenne’s leg. Nonetheless, substitute Dries Mertens converted the spot-kick to double their lead.
There were no questions about Insigne’s third goal, as he sprung the offside trap and stopped the Jorginho ball over the top dead with a magnificent first touch, allowing him to sweep it past the on-rushing Cordaz.
Callejon almost scored by accident, as a poor clearance hit him on the side and ricocheted inches past the far post. Mertens came very close to a fourth in the final minute, his finish from a tight angle cleared practically off the line by Bruno Martella.
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