Napoli earned another spectacular win with Dries Mertens’ 28th Serie A goal and a Lorenzo Insigne stunner, but the 4-2 at Sampdoria was not enough for second place.
The Partenopei needed a victory at Marassi and for Roma to slip up with Genoa to snatch that second automatic Champions League spot in the final round. Mertens was also one goal behind Edin Dzeko, as the Capocannoniere race went down to the wire.
Allan, Nikola Maksimovic and Leonardo Pavoletti missed out. Samp had Luis Muriel and Jacopo Sala suspended, Emiliano Viviano injured.
There had been 28 goals in the previous six meetings between these sides, but Napoli were unbeaten since a 1-0 result here in May 2010, followed by eight wins and three draws, home and away.
Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne tested Christian Puggioni, though Edgar Barreto slipped and failed to make the most of a Patrik Schick assist.
Jose Callejon stung the goalkeeper’s gloves from distance and Bruno Fernandes blasted over following a Marek Hamsik error in midfield.
Insigne flew down the left and whipped a ball across the face of goal, but Callejon just failed to get the final touch from six yards.
The deadlock was broken when Vasco Regini’s terrible clearance turned into an accidental assist, Mertens hitting a first-time volley from 20 metres to stun Puggioni. It was his 28th Serie A goal of the season and, with Roma currently 1-1 against Genoa, put Napoli in second place.
Napoli extended their lead with truly one of the goals of the season. Insigne flew down the left, saw nobody in the centre and from an implausible angle smashed the dipping strike into the far top corner.
Moments later, Marek Hamsik tried a lob from midfield and it landed on the roof of the net. Hamsik did get his goal after the restart, a diving header from close range at the end of a chaotic move. Mertens ran on to Insigne’s through ball, tried to lob into the far top corner from the by-line, but Callejon knocked it back into the middle.
Moments later, Quagliarella scored against his old club, sneaking up behind Vlad Chiriches to tap in a deflected Barreto cross from the right.
Milan Skriniar performed a decisive goal-line clearance on Hamsik’s looping header, but Callejon got in on the act too with his volley at the far post on a chipped Insigne cross.
Mertens had penalty appeals for a Matias Silvestre handling offence, but Sampdoria got a second as at the end of a quick passing move between Ricky Alvarez and Schick, Reina let it squirm under him at the near post.
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk