Wasteful finishing and the woodwork proved to be the visitors' undoing on the road, as they fell behind in the race to gain entry to Europe's premier club competition
Goals proved to be the only thing missing from Napoli’s performance at the Renato Dall’Ara as they fell to strikes in either half from Bologna’s Alessandro Diamanti and Matteo Rubin.
Bologna boss Stefano Pioli handed Marco Di Vaio his final start at home after it was confirmed he would be waving goodbye to Serie A come season’s end. Partenopei coach Walter Mazzarri counted on Goran Pandev in place of Ezequiel Lavezzi in attack, while Miguel Britos was handed the start in central defence for the southern Italian outfit.
The Champions League hopefuls made their intentions clear from the off, Marek Hamsik testing Federico Agliardi with a low shot in the third minute that was well turned around the post by the Italian.
Paolo Cannavaro nearly popped up with the opener after a lively opening six minutes from the Neapolitans, the captain embarking on a barnstorming run out of defence that culminated in his 25-yard drive coming back off the crossbar.
Bologna were not content to sit back and let their visitors have their way however. The Rossoblu capitalised on Cannavaro’s missed interception on a routine ball against the run of play in the 17th minute, where Diamanti was on hand to stroke home the rebound into the bottom left corner of Morgan De Sanctis’ net.
Napoli’s misery was to be compounded by the woodwork again when it denied them an immediate equaliser, Pandev connecting with a free kick and heading it onto the bar.
Edinson Cavani’s left-footed strike whistled past the far-post minutes later, before a beautiful pass picked out the hitman alone against Agliardi in the box. The Uruguayan beat the Bologna ‘keeper with a delicate chip, but it was not to be either as the ball yet again took a bounce off the bar before going harmlessly over.
It was missed chance after missed chance for the Partenopei as Cavani fired inches off target for the third time in succession, his low effort agonisingly trickling past Bologna’s near post. Di Vaio nearly made Napoli pay for their wasteful finishing however, the evergreen striker only failing to squeeze his shot past De Sanctis as Mazzarri’s men ended the first half trailing to Bologna’s opportunistic goal.
The second half began in similar fashion as Napoli poured forward in search of a result, and were nearly rewarded when substitute Lavezzi curled his free-kick narrowly past Agliardi’s post in the 56th minute.
Their endeavour was to be rendered useless in the 64th minute however, Rubin breaking into Napoli’s box following another opportunistic counter-attack before making no mistake with a high finish for his first ever Bologna goal.
The remaining 30 minutes was to be an uphill journey for the visitors that moment on, Di Vaio failing to complete their humiliation when his point-blank effort this time beat De Sanctis but not the post. The veteran again fired off target in the 84th minute as it proved a straightforward task for the home side to see out the remainder of the game, in spite of an on-field fracas that led to red cards for Archimede Morleo and Blerim Dzemaili.
Lazio’s and Udinese’s wins complicate Napoli’s prospects of gaining access to Europe’s premier club competition, while Bologna ensured Di Vaio was given a fitting farewell in front of their own supporters.