Juventus endured a tough night in Naples as a 2-0 Partenopei triumph brought an end to their 22-game unbeaten streak and a scoring run which lasted 43 Serie A games.
The determined hosts set the tone with spells of heavy pressure from the very first whistle, eventually finding the target eight minutes ahead of the break when Jose Callejon diverted Lorenzo Insigne’s cross into the back of the net.
Antonio Conte’s men improved after the interval but still appeared to lack killer instinct in the final third, a view perhaps best reflected by their second lowest shots attempted statistic of the season (nine).
And their inability to trouble Pepe Reina ultimately proved to be their undoing, as Dries Mertens dashed any hopes of a comeback with a crisp shot into the bottom corner inside the final ten minutes.
One bright spot on an otherwise difficult evening was the performance of Gigi Buffon, whose five saves represent his third-best tally in a Serie A game this season.
The captain displayed his razor-sharp reflexes during a frantic opening, first getting down low to deny Callejon when the midfielder looked odds-on to score and then reaching up to turn Marek Hamsik’s drive over the bar.
Another noteworthy display came in the form of Giorgio Chiellini, who attempted the most passes of any player (76), with 30 of these being executed in opposition territory.
Also keen to get the Bianconeri going was Stephan Lichtsteiner. Starting on the right flank before being moved to an uncustomary left wing-back role following the introduction of Mauricio Isla, the Swiss international produced the most crosses (10) and had the Bianconeri’s only two shots on target of the evening, both gathered by Reina.
While there will inevitably be an element of disappointment at a display which failed to match the high standards set by Conte’s men, the bigger picture states that there is plenty to be optimistic about: the 81 points obtained so far represent a joint-best haul in Serie A after 31 games.