Adriano Boin Date: 10th September 2017 at 10:49pm
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Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens and Piotr Zielinski breached Bologna’s backline in the second half as the Azzurri kept their nerve after a scoreless opening 45 minutes to claim a deserved 3-0 victory at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara.

After seeing rivals Juventus and Inter register wins earlier in the weekend, Maurizio Sarri’s men put in a confident and assured performance that keeps them level with the aforementioned duo on nine points from three matches.

It wasn’t as easy as the scoreline suggests however, as Bologna put up a fight for two thirds of the contest, even coming close to opening the scoring themselves.

However once Callejon headed home to give Maurizio Sarri’s men the advantage the Rossoblu vanished from the contest, and it came as a surprise to no-one that Mertens and Zielinski added to the scoreline in the final 10 minutes.

Bologna were quick out of the gates, with Simone Verdi the liveliest player. After skipping past Elseid Hysaj, the Italian’s angled effort flashed across the face of goal and off the mark.

Soon after that the former Roma youth product tested Pepe Reina with a splendid freekick, but his effort was tipped onto the crossbar by the acrobatic Spaniard.

Adam Masina’s tap in was correctly called off due to an offside position, while Mertens’ penalty claims went unheard by the referee in the 33rd minute after the Belgian looked to have been blocked by Filip Helander in the area.

Vlad Chiriches dislocated his shoulder, and after several failed attempts to rectify the problem, he was replaced by Raul Albiol just before half-time.

Napoli continued to throw men forward after the break, and though Bologna sat with all their players behind the halfway line, it was the home side that looked the more likely to score.

Verdi was the danger man once again in the 60th minute, as he picked out Mattia Destro. The Italian’s strike was stopped by Reina, however the rebound came off a Napoli player, forcing Kalidou Koulibaly to clear off the line.

The clearance proved to be prodigious, as the Azzurri’s patience was duly rewarded six minutes later.

With Bologna defending deep, Insigne fired a wonderful cross to the back post, where Callejon found just enough space in behind Masina to head the away side into the lead.

The result was put away in the 83rd minute when Erick Pulgar was caught in possession by Mertens, and the Belgian sprinted in and fired past Antonio Mirante to make it 2-0.

Zielinksi, who came on for Hamsik in the second half, added the third with minutes remaining, calmly tapping home Callejon’s cross to make it three wins from as many matches for the Partenopei.

Next up for Napoli is a home match against newly promoted Benevento, while Bologna travel to Tuscany for a clash with Fiorentina.

MATCH FACTS

  • Napoli have won their last four games against Bologna in Serie A, scoring 19 goals (4.8 average per game).
  • Napoli have won their last eight Serie A games, matching their all-time record established between December 2015 and February 2016.
  • Napoli have the most second half goals scored in Serie A 2017/18 (7).
  • Lorenzo Insigne has been directly involved in nine goals in his last seven Serie A appearances (four goals, five assists).
  • Dries Mertens has been directly involved in nine goal (seven goals, two assists) in the last three Serie A games played against Bologna.
  • José Callejon has scored 26 of his 48 Serie A goals away from home.
  • Against Napoli, Bologna recorded their worst average possession (35.4%) between this Serie A and last season.