Serie A - Napoli win to go second
Napoli reclaimed second place in the Serie A table courtesy of a comfortable 2-0 win over Bologna at the Stadio Dell’Ara.
First-half goals from Giuseppe Mascara and Marek Hamsik proved to be sufficient to see off the half-hearted challenge presented by Bologna who sit in mid-table limbo.
Walter Mazzarri’s team remain firmly in contention to clinch a first Scudetto crown since 1990, having leapfrogged Internazionale and now trailing leaders Milan, who take on Fiorentina later tonight, only on goal difference.
In an obvious attempt to nullify Napoli’s attacking threat, Bologna set up in a mirror image of their opponents’ 3-4-3 formation but struggled from the outset.
Even without the talents of suspended top scorer Edinson Cavani, Napoli confidently took the game to their desperately inferior opposition and there was an air of inevitability when they took the lead.
Selected to fill the big boots left vacant by Cavani, Mascara repaid his manger’s faith by capitalizing on a disastrous goalkeeping error to prod home his first Napoli goal on the half hour mark.
But the goal owed as much to a wonderful passage of patient approach play with Michele Pazienza, Cristian Maggio and Ezequiel Lavezzi all involved before Emiliano Viviano’s suicidal push of the ball into the path of the lurking Mascara who made no mistake.
And when the second goal came on the brink of half time it was no more than Napoli deserved for an utterly dominant first-half performance.
As Lavezzi and Hamsik bore down on goal after beating a poorly executed offside trap, the exposed Viviano only succeeded in bringing the former crashing to the ground and was fortunate not to be given his marching orders by the referee who showed no hesitation in awarding a penalty kick.
Having been absent for much of the first half, Hamsik stamped his mark on proceedings by confidently lashing home the spot kick to send Napoli in with a well earned two-goal advantage.
With two significant wounds inflicted and the damage done, Napoli felt comfortable enough to ease of the accelerator pedal in a second half played at pedestrian pace.
Bologna’s talismanic and evergreen striker Marco Di Vaio was granted an odd glimpse of goal and perhaps should have troubled the scoreboard on more than one occasion while Lavezzi and Hamsik went close at the other end.
With 40 points on the board and Serie A football all-but secured for another season, Bologna seemingly lacked the motivation to seek out a route back into this game and allowed Napoli a relatively relaxed afternoon in the sunshine with the Serie A title clearly on the horizon.