Domenico Berardi’s first goal at the Mapei Stadium in over a year wasn’t enough for Sassuolo to see off a heavily-changed and sub-par Napoli side on Sunday evening, with the Partenopei bagging a late leveller.
Carlo Ancelotti fielded a number of the Partenopei’s more peripheral players in his starting XI and his decisions came back to bite him as he watched his side drop points for the second straight Serie A outing after last week’s loss against Juventus.
With the draw, Sassuolo continued an impressive recent streak against the Napoletani, which now stands at four games without defeat, drawing three of those. But Napoli don’t usually lose in Emilia-Romagna and Insigne’s late equaliser ensured they remain unbeaten in their last 19 visits to the region.
Napoli were gifted an early opportunity to break the deadlock through an uncharacteristic momentary loss of concentration from Alfred Duncan, who was caught in possession allowing Dries Mertens to charge at Andrea Consigli’s goal. Fortunately for Duncan, Merih Demiral made an incredible recovering challenge at the last second.
Duncan did then get back to his usual self and it was thanks to his quick feet that the Neroverdi had a chance of their own. A clever shift in midfield opened up his options and after finding Jeremie Boga on the left the forward cut in and curled an effort just wide.
Domenico Berardi hadn’t scored at the Mapei Stadium for over a year and his wait should have come to an end when Rogerio kept the ball from crossing the byline with a header but the No.25 wasted the chance by trying to take too many touches in the box, allowing Napoli to close him down.
Boga continued to cause problems for the Partenopei, while Rogerio kept trying to involve himself in the attacks whenever possible.
There were two more chances for Napoli to take the lead but both Adam Ounas and Simone Verdi passed up on chances they really should have done more with after being found by Mertens and Faouzi Ghoulam respectively.
Berardi’s drought did end after the break though as Boga was again proving an irritant for the Napoli defence and a loose ball in the box was knocked back across goal where the forward arrived to finish.
Amadou Diawara forced Consigli to save well down low with a shot from range but, Duncan had deflected the effort and taken some of the power from the shot.
All seemed lost for Ancelotti until Lorenzo Insigne bagged a late goal for the visitors, elegantly curling a textbook strike into Consigli’s top corner.
The Boga-man of Reggio Emilia troubles the Partenopei
Jeremie Boga was excellent for Sassuolo and it was only right that he was involved in the game’s opening goal.
The former Chelsea player was direct and quick whenever in possession and Kevin Malcuit found it hard to get near him.
He almost opened the scoring himself with a curled effort as his drifted in from the left but it wasn’t to be, but Roberto De Zerbi’s side wouldn’t have picked up any points had it not been for his efforts.
Berardi scores at home… at last
It has been a long time since Domenico Berardi scored his last goal at the Mapei, with his previous strike coming over a year ago against Torino, but the 24-year-old broke his duck against the side he made his Serie A debut against in 2013.
Sassuolo will be hoping that he can build on this goal though as now hitting his mid-20s, it’s time for him to stop being so hit-and-miss.
Allan is everywhere
Wherever the ball was, Allan arrived. It’s nothing new for the Brazilian, who has been doing this for a considerable amount of time for Napoli, but it never ceases to amaze just how consistently he arrives in the right place at the right time.
He swept up everything in the first half and his ability to cover quite the same amount of ground faded as the game wore on, but without Allan things could have been a lot worse for Ancelotti’s side.