Napoli recorded a late win over Genoa at Stadio San Paolo thanks to Marek Hamsik, but the points should have been theirs earlier, as they missed a string of chances.
Napoli kept their Champions League qualification bid on track thanks to Marek Hamsik's late winner at a rainy Stadio San Paolo as Genoa's brave defence failed to last the course. Napoli missed a string of chances before the Slovakian sealed a deserved 1-0 win to keep the pressure on Inter and strengthen their hold on automatic Champions' League qualification.
The Partenopei had a bright start to the game. Ezequiel Lavezzi’s set pieces caused confusion among the Genoa defence, and Palo Cannavaro should have taken advantage when the visitors failed to clear a corner, while Kakha Kaladze made a great block to deny an Edinson Cavani shot that seemed destined for Eduardo’s net.
Genoa weren’t without attacking threat of their own: Abdoulay Konko dribbled through the Napoli defence before sending in a great cross that had De Sanctis beaten but couldn’t find a team-mate, while Juraj Kucka’s powerful drive had De Sanctis in trouble, only to flash inches wide of the post.
The game suddenly opened up in the 35th minute. Genoa couldn’t steer the ball home through Alberto Paloschi or Domenico Criscito after Napoli failed to clear their lines before the home side broke, only for Hamsik to fail to reach Cavani’s cross.
Lavezzi’s then saw his drive take a deflection and fell just wide of the target, but that was the last chance in a first half where both teams failed to register a shot on target.
The second half started brightly as both sides searched for an opener. Emiliano Moretti forced a decent save from De Sanctis with a header from a Giandomenico Mesta set piece, while at the other end Lavezzi sent the ball over when he should have taken advantage of Eduardo’s failure to deal with a cross.
Eduardo made a trio of great saves to deny Napoli a lead. First he got down low to stop substitute Hassan Yebda from making an instant impact as the Algerian rose highest from a Hamsik corner. Moments later, the Portuguese shot-stopper spared Kaladze’s blushes when he prevented the former Milan centre-back from scoring an own goal, before finally denying Lavezzi from a header at his near post.
Cavani’s powerful far-post volley forced another great save from Eduardo, but Genoa’s resistance was finally ended by Marek Hamsik in the 82nd minute. The Slovakian star controlled Salvatore Aronica’s cross before finishing empathically with his right foot to register his 11th goal of the season.
Walter Mazzarri's side survived a late scare as Antonio Floro Flores’ header went inches wide with De Sanctis easily beaten, but a comeback seemed unlikely after Hamsik’s strike.
Napoli’s Scudetto hopes rest on a spectacular collapse from AC Milan, but they are looking ever more likely to rub shoulders with Europe’s elite next season as they move eight points clear of fourth-placed Lazio, who play Juventus on Monday.