Uruguayan forward scores as home side dominate encounter to boost hopes of European qualification
Strikes by Miguel Britos and Edinson Cavani were enough to ensure that the Partenopei gain ground on the top three positions in the table, as they aim to return to Europe's top competition next season.
The result was a fair reflection on the performance of the hosts, as Cavani dominated the opposing defence from the offset, linking in tandem with attacking partner Ezequiel Lavezzi throughout.
The match was played in a positive fashion, as both sides looked to improve upon their recent form, with Napoli searching for their Serie A victory since January 8. The Flying Donkeys were looking for a second successive win that would help them close the gap on their rivals and gain some breathing space from the drop zone.
The opening stages saw both sides grapple to assert their dominance, with Argentine Lavezzi looking particularly bright for the home team, but neither goalkeeper was troubled.
Napoli’s supremacy was felt in the 15th minute as Uruguayan defender Britos opened the scoring with a thumping header, having been totally unmarked following a fine corner from Lavezzi.
As the first half wore on, the hosts continued to express themselves with Gokhan Inler controlling the midfield and Marek Hamsik in ominous mood.
Chievo struggled to grasp control of the game and their only chance of note in the first half fell to Pellissier. The veteran’s tame shot was directed straight at home custodian Morgan De Sanctis who had little else to do in the first half.
Hamsik played a key role in Napoli clinching the match. The Slovakian slid through a perfect through ball to colleague Cavani who was subsequently fouled from behind by visiting keeper Stefano Sorrentino.
There were suspicions of offside, but Cavani stepped up to coolly send Sorrentino the wrong way and slot home his 13th strike of the campaign and stretch the Partenopei’s lead.
The second half saw a continuation of the first as lethal trident Lavezzi, Cavani and Hamsik continued to link up superbly. As a result, Di Carlo made his first change just after the hour mark as the ineffectual Paloschi was substituted for Davide Moscardelli. The forward was immediately involved, on the receiving end of a tough tackle from Grava, which resulted in a yellow card for the defender.
As the half wore on, it brought about a more even contest, as Napoli seemed content to hold their two goal advantage, but Chievo but didn’t create the chances required to get back into the game.
The result sees Napoli close the gap on their fellow European challengers whilst Chievo continue to struggle just below mid-table. The win also gives Mazzarri’s side a timely boost ahead of their Champions League tie with Chelsea next midweek.