Napoli are level on points with Milan for the time being, after a convincing two-goal victory over Bologna without talisman Edinson Cavani in their ranks...
Napoli defeated Bologna 2-0 at the Renato Dall'Ara, with first-half goals from Giuseppe Mascara and Marek Hamsik ensuring the Partenopei continue to harass and harangue Milan in the race for the Scudetto.
The match started in explosive fashion, with both teams looking to break the deadlock from kick-off. Marco Di Vaio had the first chance go his way for the hosts, but his shot from a tight angle went high over the bar. Napoli hit back through intelligent link-up play between Christian Maggio and Ezequiel Lavezzi, but to no avail.
The frenetic pace soon died down though, with hardly any goalscoring opportunities for either team, especially Bologna who seemed to be playing for the draw
The Partenopei, however, opened the scoring on 29 minutes in very fortunate circumstances. An exquisite Lavezzi back-heel from Maggio’s tantalising low cross rolled into Emiliano Viviano hands, but the Italy number two made a complete hash of the save and gifted Giuseppe Mascara with a tap-in, to mark his first goal in Napoli colours.
Right on the edge of half-time, a moment of madness occurred in the home side’s defence, which resulted in a second goal to the visitors.
Marek Hamsik and Lavezzi both broke through with just Viviano to beat, but it seemed the Slovak had blown the chance with a poor pass to Lavezzi. However, the ex-San Lorenzo man controlled the ball beautifully to roll it away from the Bologna 'keeper, who proceeded to take out the Argentine and was shown a yellow card, despite it being a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Hamsik confidently dispatched the resulting spot kick to ensure the Partenopei went into the interval with a convincing two-goal lead.
Di Vaio had a quiet first-half by his usual standards, but almost scored the equaliser with an impressive volley on 50 minutes, and it required Morgan De Sanctis to stay on his toes and parry the ball out for a corner.
Just five minutes later, Di Vaio had another chance fall his way. This time it was due to poor judgement from De Sanctis, who came rushing off his line despite having defenders covering in front of him, but the ex-Valencia striker's finish could only hit the side-netting.
A few more decent opportunities arrived as the game wore on. Lavezzi cut inside from the right flank and blasted a powerful drive straight at Viviano, who stood up well. Bologna had an even better opportunity of their own, after Di Vaio failed to connect with an inswinging cross from the right hand side.
Substitute Matteo Rubin forced De Sanctis to pull off a fine save, after unleashing a stinging half volley from outside the box. Walter Mazzarri's showed great resolve to resist the hosts' pressure and are now level on points with league leaders Milan, who prepare to face Fiorentina later this evening.