Chievo 2-4 Napoli: Brilliant Hamsik the difference for Partenopei
In what was a thoroughly entertaining match, Azzurri captain Marek Hamsik put the visitors ahead before Andrea Paloschi equalised for Chievo. Jose Callejon then put his side back in front before Paloschi again equalised, with Hamsik adding a third and Gonzalo Higuain rounding off the scoring in the second half.
Paloschi tried a cheeky early trick, knocking the ball out of Pepe Reina’s hands as the Napoli ‘keeper tried to kick the ball upfield, with the Chievo striker firing a shot just wide as the ball came loose. He was reprimanded by the referee but got away with just a warning.
Cyril Thereau then lost the ball in Napoli’s half, with Marek Hamsik threading a ball forward to Higuain who sped into the box past his defender and smashed a shot at goal from a tight angle on the right which Christian Puggioni palmed away.
Captain Hamsik was the first to get on the scoresheet in the 12th minute, as he smashed a curling drive into the bottom right from outside the box. Lorenzo Insigne passed the ball right to Hamsik on the edge of the box and his powerful right footed shot hit the inside of the post and rippled the back of the net. The Chievo defenders failed to close him down and they were duly punished.
Paloschi then equalised for Chievo in the 23rd minute, as a wonderful volleyed cross from Perparim Hetemaj was put into the six yard area, and the young striker slotted the ball in the bottom left corner. It was a very well worked goal from the home side which started with a good ball out wide from Luca Rigoni.
Jose Callejon then hit back for Napoli in the 27th putting the visitors back in front after the Azzurri capitalised on a mistake from Chievo. Higuain picked up Gennaro Sardo’s poor pass back on the left and ran into the box crossing for Callejon to slot the ball in at the far post.
Paloschi almost equalised a minute later, hitting the left upright for Chievo. He flicked the ball past Reina and the ball rebounded back to the awaiting Hamsik as the AC Milan youth product almost got his second of the match.
Ivan Radovanovic was the next to attempt a shot on goal with an ambitious strike from outside the box. After being passed the ball infield, Radovanovic struck a powerful drive which Reina acrobatically dived to reach, putting the ball into the danger zone. Thereau then blazed the ensuing chance over the Napoli bar.
Higuain came very close after some nice interplay on the edge of the box, playing a nice one-two with Hamsik, but he flashed the ball wide of the left upright after shooting from a good angle on the right.
Paloschi then scored his second goal of the game in the 39th getting a fantastic equaliser for his side, with an angled drive from the right between the legs of Reina. A bicycycle kick on the edge of the box from Radovanovic deflected off a Napoli defender and fell to Paloschi, as he picked up the loose ball in the box and spun past Christian Maggio before finishing brilliantly past Reina.
The second half started in much less frenetic fashion than the first, and was much slower-paced with both teams having good spells of possession.
Chievo were happy to sit back and absorb pressure and frequently got players behind the ball, closing the Napoli players down before then had the chance to reach the penalty area.
Gokhan Inler had the first shot of the second period, with a stinging left-footed strike from outside the box going just wide of Puggioni’s left post.
Another great shot from Inler from the edge of the box was fisted away by the Chievo goalkeeper as he switched the ball onto his left foot.
Insigne came into the game more and combined well down Napoli’s left flank with Juan Camilo Zuniga. An impressive mazy run in the box in which he skipped away from two challenges resulted in a shot which ended up in the arms of Puggioni with the young Neapolitan demonstrating his excellent dribbling ability.
Hamsik then got Napoli’s third goal of the game in the 66th, capitalising on the confusion in the Chievo penalty box. Inler got forward and crossed from the left, with Rigoni sliding in and directing the ball goal-wards. Puggioni managed to prevent the ball from crossing the line, but the ball bounced to Hamsik who smashed the ball home on the volley.
After their third goal the Azzurri were happy to keep possession as Chievo chased the game, with Zuniga going close, hitting a daisy-cutter just wide of the right post.
Higuain made it 4-2 to Napoli in the 69th minute, both setting-up and finishing the goal, combining well with Insigne. Higuain passed Insigne the ball on the edge of the box and the Frattamaggiore native waited before chipping a lovely ball into the box for him to chase. His initial shot was deflected off Puggioni but he made no mistake with the rebound.
Paloschi then had a great chance to get Chievo back in the game, cutting in from the left, but spurned the opportunity, blazing the ball over.
Substitute Goran Pandev was the next to go close, firing the ball into the side netting from the left after being assisted by Zuniga from the wing.
Napoli were content to see out the match in the final ten minutes, and despite Chievo going in search of a consolation goal, the score remained the same until the referee blew the final whistle.