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Italy - Serie A
February 24, 2014
• Stadio San Paolo, Napoli
Referee: L. Banti
• Attendance: 30377
G. Higuaín 18'
E. Calaiò 84'
Anyway, that's it from me. Thanks for joining us tonight for what was an intriguing contest from start to finish. Until next time, take it easy and good luck.
So, what does that mean for the Serie A standings? Well, Napoli remain third but are now six points behind second-placed Roma having played one game more. The Partenopei are six points ahead of fourth-placed Fiorentina, though.
FULL-TIME! And that's all she wrote. Napoli were fantastic going forward during the first half, netting a superb goal through Higuain. But they always looked vulnerable defensively and Genoa, it has to be said, fully deserved their equally fine equaliser through Calaio.
90' + 3'
Reina knocks it long but Higuain, who has just gotten more and more frustrated the long this has gone on, is pinged for a blatant shirt-pull. Maybe one more chance for Napoli to attack, but they look bereft of ideas.
90' + 2'
Calaio thinks he's broken the Napoli offside trap but the flag goes up. Just a minute to go.
Napoli not really threatening. Indeed, Genoa look pretty lively on the break. Anyway, we're going to have three extra minutes.
Napoli frantically trying to regain the initiative here. Tackles flying in all over the place. We're set up for a grandstand finish, but I suspect the Partenopei have left this too late.
Benitez responds to the equaliser by withdrawing Mertens, who was excellent in the first half, for Pandev. How Napoli could do with a late goal from the ex-Inter attacker.
Goal Emanuele Calaiò
GOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! STUNNING FREE KICK FROM CALAIO! What a strike from the former Napoli man, who beats Reina all ends up with a sublime left-footed effort from all of 30 yards out. The San Paolo is silenced - but you cannot say it's not been coming.
Yellow Card Dries Mertens
After a Matuzalem free kick is cleared into the middle of the park, Mertens absolutely levels Centurion by blatantly leading with his elbow as the pair jumped for the bouncing ball. Just a yellow for Mertens - but it should have been red. As it is, a free kick in central position for Genoa ...
A second substitution for Napoli, with Inler taking over from Jorginho in midfield.
Another change for Genoa, with the wasteful Sculli making way for Centurion.
Napoli not carrying anything like the attacking threat they had in the first half, but they are at least looking a lot more solid at the back right now. Indeed, the game's become incredibly scrappy.
For a moment it looks like Higuain is clean through on goal but he's called back for offside. His frustration mounts!
Yellow Card José Callejón
Callejon picks up a stupid booking for sticking the ball in the back of the net after the referee had whistle for a handball by the winger.
Benitez makes his first change, sending Insigne on in place of Hamsik, whose influence has waned the longer this game has gone on. Insigne could well be the man to bring Napoli's attack back to life.
Yellow Card Gonzalo Higuaín
Even Higuain's getting frustrated! The Argentine goes right through the back of Bertolacci - and that's a yellow for Napoli's talismanic No.9.
Genoa are on top now, no doubt about that. They're bossing things in midfield. Sculli is the latest to have a pop, but his drive flies wide. Worrying times for Napoli, though.
Genoa know full well that they could get something out of this game. They had another effort a moment ago, when Konate gets on the end of a deep cross from the left, but his header is deflected wide.
HUGE LET-OFF FOR NAPOLI! Konate turns on a sixpence before putting Sculli in on goal. The angle is tight enough but the No.10 shoots wastefully wide of the far post. Huge chance for Genoa - and Sculli knows it; he looks devastated.
Mertens cuts inside from the left wing for the umpteenth time tonight but he drags his shot wide.
A second change for Genoa, with Calaio coming on for Motta.
Callejon looks poised to get another shot away - but again Antonelli is there in the nick of time to block the Spaniard's effort.
Matuzalem's been one of Genoa's better players but he is treading a fine line. Having already been booked, he clatters into poor Behrami, who has really been in the wars tonight. Matuzalem rather cleverly pretends to be injured himself - and it works. No second yellow!
The ball drops for Matuzalem some 30 metres out, so he tries his luck. However, it's a poor strike that causes Reina no trouble whatsoever.
Yellow Card Raúl Albiol
Albiol goes into the book for a clumsy foul on Fetfatzidis. The Spaniard's been a liability all evening. He looks a red waiting to happen.
Matuzalem takes Ghoulam out wide on the left and Napoli will have a free kick. However, the delivery is desperately poor and Genoa clear.
Great defending from Antonelli! Hamsik looks to have slipped in Callejon but the Genoa defender nicks the ball off the toe of the former Real Madrid just as the winger was shaping to shoot.
Got a change to tell you about too, with Gilardino making way for Fetfatzidis. Have to imagine the veteran striker picked up an injury.
And we're back under way at the San Paolo. First half was wonderful entertainment, so more of the same please, people!
Right, we're just about ready to go for the second half. Can Genoa turn this around? They definitely have a goal in them, that's for sure. But Napoli look so good going forward, with Higuain and Mertens looking particularly lively.
Napoli end an enthralling first half on the offensive, with Higuain trying - and failing - to wrongfoot his marker in the area. And that's half-time.
45' + 3'
Albiol is really struggling tonight. He's just been turned inside out by Konate and was very fortunate that the Senegalese was unable to get much purchase on his subsequent strike.
Yellow Card Marek Hamsik
Hamsik goes into the book now, with the Slovak guilty of dissent. Silly yellow card.
Terrific one-two involving Higuain and Callejon down the right wing, but the former's subsequent cross evades everyone in the area.
Mertens shows off his quick feet once again, this time jinking one way and then the other on the right corner of the box before getting a shot away. He didn't get enough power in that one and he subsequently acknowledges that he probably shouldn't have been so ambitious.
Yellow Card Giuseppe Sculli
Sculli goes into the book - and about time too - for another poor challenge on Behrami.
The latest passage of play pretty much sums up the game so far. Napoli look set to score after a sweeping attack down the left but the ball will just not drop kindly for Hamsik. Genoa then counter and suddenly have four on four, but Sculli plays a poor pass to Motta, killing the momentum of the move before a cross from Antonelli is easily cleared.
GENOA GO CLOSE! Napoli are playing well, no doubt about that, but they're still so open at the back. This time Konate is left totally unmarked to get his head on an in-swinging left-wing cross from Antonelli, but the Senegalese heads straight at Reina, who parries the low header out for a corner.
Hamsik finds some space for himself in midfield and tries to loft a ball over the top for Mertens, but it's too close to Perin. Mertens is asking why he didn't just get it to feet and you can understand why, because he's got the beating of Antonini - that's been painfully obvious so far.
MERTENS AGAIN! The Belgian is running amok here. Once again, he drives infield from the left wing before unleashing a terrific strike that fizzes past the right post. He's getting closer and closer. Surely only a matter of time before he gets on the scoresheet? ...
Yellow Card Matuzalem
ANOTHER SHOCKING CHALLENGE! This time Matuzalem dives in on Fernandez. There was some serious intent in that challenge but the midfielder escapes with a yellow. Lucky boy.
Break in play at the moment, as Behrami is currently rolling around on the floor in agony ...and the replay underlines why. After winning a ball in the middle of the park, he was caught both high and late by Sculli, who ran his studs right down Behrami's right leg, dislodging the Swiss' boot in the process. A nasty one.
Genoa just can't handle Mertens at the moment. He's skipping past players for fun right now.
Very open and exciting encounter so far. You have to hand it to Napoli - they play some great stuff going forward, but they always look vulnerable at the back. Bit like Liverpool!
In my opinion, Matuzalem's been one of the best players on the pitch so far, and he lobs a delightful little ball in behind the Napoli back-line that puts Albiol into all sorts of bother. The Spaniard is muscled off the ball by Konate, who shoots past Reina. However, Fernandez is there to clear off the line! Bit let-off for Napoli.
Real end-to-end stuff now, with Higuain firing just wide with a low strike from distance. What a player the Argentine is!
Genoa threaten an instant riposte, with Matuzalem swinging over a most inviting cross from the left wing which De Maio heads over the bar. That was a real chance for the centre-half, as he was totally unmarked.
Assist Marek Hamsik
Goal Gonzalo Higuaín
GOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL! HIGUAIN!!!!! Who else?! However, Hamsik's role in the opener cannot be overstated, with the Slovak rolling the most wonderfully measured ball in behind the Genoa defence for Higuain to latch onto before deftly lifting it over the advancing Perin. A sublime goal.
Bertolacci takes aim from some 35 metres out but his low strike is easily dealt with by Reina.
Genoa go deep in search for De Maio but Albiol heads clear for the hosts.
Decent drive from Antonini down the right wing and he earns his side a corner.
Mertens threatens again! This time, though, Callejon deserves a lot of credit for a terrific surge that started with the Spaniard rolling the ball through the legs of Antonini. Callejon then lays it wide to Mertens, but the winger whips the ball just over the bar.
After a disastrous Napoli corner routine, Genoa counterattack quickly, very nearly putting Sculli away. However, Reina is alert to the danger.
Mertens is in the mood tonight. He cleverly allows the ball to run for Higuain, who lets it off into the path of the Belgium. He takes a touch before trying his luck with a curling effort that Perin parries over the bar.
Genoa finally settling into the game now, with Matuzalem knocking the ball about nicely in midfield.
CLOSE!! First sight of goal for Higuain - and he very nearly finds the back of the net. Mertens looks to pass inside to Hamsik and the stretching Slovak manages to help the ball on to Higuain. The Argentine shifts the ball onto his right footb but his strike flies just wide. Early warning for Genoa.
Bright start from Mertens down the left flank for Napoli but his low cross is easily cleared by Genoa.
And we're under way at the San Paolo.
GENOA (3-4-3): Perin; Antonini, De Maio, Burdisso; Motta, Matuzalem, Bertolacci, Antonelli; Konaté, Gilardino, Sculli.
Napoli (4-2-3-1): Reina; Reveillere, Fernandez, Albiol, Ghoulam; Behrami, Jorginho; Callejon, Hamsik, Mertens; Higuain.
Right, let's get some team news, shall we? First up, the hosts, Napoli ...
Victory would also draw Napoli to within four points of second-placed Roma, albeit having played a game more. And just to confirm, Fiorentina have been held to a 2-2 draw at Parma. Late drama at the Tardini, too, with both Valero and Munari right at the death. Diakite was also dismissed earlier for the Viola. Not a good night for Montella's men.
This is a pretty important game for the Partenopei because Fiorentina are currently being held at Parma (just seconds to go in that one), meaning Rafael Benitez's men could move eight points clear in third place.
Good evening, folks, my name's Mark Doyle and welcome to Goal's coverage of tonight's Serie A clash between Napoli and Genoa.
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