26.09.2015 23:08 - in: Match report S

      Napoli prevail at the San Paolo

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      The Partenopei prevail 2-1 at the San Paolo courtesy of strikes by Lorenzo Insigne and Gonzalo Higuain before Mario Lemina registers his maiden goal for the Bianconeri

      Strikes by Lorenzo Insigne and Gonzalo Higuain helped Napoli to all three points in a close encounter at the San Paolo, with Mario Lemina’s first Bianconeri goal not enough to avoid a third reverse of the season.

      In what was an energetic  and even first-half, Massimiliano Allegri’s men settled well into the encounter, as they calmly picked out their passes (completing 87.6 of them in the first half) to create a couple of good chances, one of which Simone Zaza netted, but was ruled out for offside.

      It would take something special to open the scoring and Insigne’s 25th minute goal was just that, the Neapolitan exchanging a smart one-two with Higuain before accurately placing his finish into the bottom corner from just outside the box.

      The goal galvanised Napoli, who would have the better of the play leading up to their second strike of the evening on 62 minutes, as Higuain shot powerfully past Gigi Buffon, netting his fifth of the campaign.

      Just 60 seconds later, however, Juventus were back in the match, when Lemina turned in Paulo Dybala’s cross from the left, tucking a finish inside the near post for his maiden goal for the club since arriving in the summer from Marseille.

      The visitors now had their tails up and pressed with urgency for an equaliser, but besides Alvaro Morata’s crisp, whipped effort that curled narrowly wide, they were unable to fashion any clear goalscoring opportunities, as Napoli held on for their second Serie A victory this season.

      In a high octane opening few minutes, the Bianconeri had the ball in the back of the net in the fourth minute, when Leonardo Bonucci’s raking forward pass found Zaza, who was adjudged to have been in an offside position before lobbing Pepe Reina.

      The striker, making only his second start for Juventus, forced the experienced keeper into a smart save nine minutes later, after latching onto a cute through ball by Dybala.

      Cheered on by a passionate San Paolo crowd, the hosts grew increasingly into the game themselves. Insigne struck narrowly wide with one attempt on 20 minutes, but five later he would be celebrating a brilliant opener, as he managed to weave the ball in between Juve’s backline by virtue of a quick exchange with Higuain before unleashing an accurate shot inside Buffon’s right-hand post.

      Maurizio Sarri’s men seemed to take heart from the goal, and they looked the more likely side to find another. On 45 minutes, Buffon got down low to parry a dangerous cross by Faouzi Ghoulam before it could reach Dries Mertens, who was lurking in the six-yard box, and José Callejon’s strike on the rebound sailed off target.

      Reina too would be called into action just moments later, diverting the ball away from an onrushing Zaza, and then Mertens struck narrowly wide of the mark in a frantic final few minutes to the half.

      In stark contrast to the start of the match, the second period started slowly, with the only attempts of real note coming from Mertens’ shot deflected over the crossbar and Higuain’s powerful effort on the hour-mark aimed straight at Buffon.

      That would prove to be a sighter, however, as the Argentine striker fired in his side’s second on 62 minutes after intercepting a misplaced pass by Hernanes.

      And the game well and truly sparked into life, when barely 60 seconds later Lemina turned in Dybala’s cross from the left to give the visitors a much-needed lifeline of fighting their way back into the contest.

      On 71 minutes, Allegri introduced Morata to the field, substituting Dybala, and the Spaniard came close to finding an equaliser, as he sent a venomous drive whiskers wide of Reina’s upright.

      But the Bianconeri were unable to carve out any further clear-cut opportunities, as Napoli held on for a victory that pushes them up to nine points in the table.

      As Juventus come to terms with a third reverse of the season, they will hope for an improved result and performance when Sevilla visit Turin for their second Champions League group game on Wednesday evening.

      Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik (David Lopez 80); Callejon, Higuain (Gabbiadini 84), Insigne (Mertens 39).
      Unused substitutes: Rafael, Gabriel, Strinic, Henrique, Chiriches, Maggio, Chalobah, Valdifiori, El Kaddouri.
      Manager: Sarri

      Buffon; Padoin (Alex Sandro 89), Bonucci, Chiellini, Evra; Lemina, Hernanes (Cuadrado 64), Pogba; Pereyra; Dybala (Morata 71), Zaza.
      Unused substitutes: Neto, Audero, Rugani, Barzagli, Sturaro, Asamoah.
      Manager: Allegri

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