Napoli 2-0 Torino: We've angered the bull

Giuseppe Bellini

Napoli picked up a comfortable victory on Sunday afternoon, but Torino will certainly be protesting the referee's decision to award two penalties and a straight red card.

The match could hardly have gone any better for Napoli, and hardly any worse for Torino. Napoli were playing a patient possession-based game -- that is, except for Pablo Armero, who enjoyed screwing up crosses and shooting on sight. Before 15 minutes, one of these attacks had lead to Dries Mertens receiving the ball just outside the area. The Belgian twisted and turned to slip through the Torino shirts before Nicola Bellomo felled him just inside the area.

It was Gonzalo Higuaín that stepped up to the spot. His strike was fantastic, the ball smashing into the underside of the post and falling behind Daniele Padelli. That makes for six times Napoli have scored in the first fifteen minutes, the best in Serie A (Thanks Opta!). Now, if only the partenopei could learn to not fall apart in the final fifteen...

Just after the half hour mark, Napoli were awarded another penalty. This one, however, was more controversial. Federico Fernández launched his shot but the ball bounced into Kamil Glik. The Napoli players immediately gestured for handball, but Andrea De Marco didn't have a clear view. After consulting with the linesman, however, the referee pointed to the spot.

Again it was Higuaín that stepped up. Rather than take it high and central, however, this time he went low and to his right, leaving Padelli with no chance. As you might imagine, the Torino players were just a bit miffed.

After that, Napoli failed to find the back of the net once more, but it wasn't for want of trying. Just minutes later, Lorenzo Insigne had the chance to make it 3-0. Padelli -- who, it must be said, hasn't given anyone much of a reason to think he deserves to be a Serie A first choice goalkeeper -- came rushing out to block the shot. He failed, however, leaving Insigne with an open net. The shot, however, was deflected when a granata player got the tiniest touch with his head.

Just before the halftime whistle, Glik made it clear that he wanted revenge for the earlier handball call. In what was probably the best attempt from the whopping three Torino took in the first half, the centerback had a good go of it -- and not with his head, either. Instead, he performed a nifty little turn before striking the ball with his right foot, but the shot went just high of goal.

After the restart, Toro looked much more lively. But Giuseppe Ventura made the interesting decision to remove Alessio Cerci for the second half, replacing him with Riccardo Meggiorini. Sure, Cerci hadn't been brilliant, but he's the best Torino have got. After his removal, the visitors may have been getting forward much more, but the attacks were rarely threatening. Pepe Reina was forced to save two shots from Meggiorini, but both were comfortable. Perhaps a Cerci - Meggiorini pairing would be better, Mr. Ventura?

Napoli continued to take their chances in the second half, but a mixture of selfishness and bad luck kept the ball from landing in the back of the net. El Pepita seemed way too focused on getting a hat trick, and kept trying to have a go rather than pass the ball on to his open teammates. Insigne, desperate for his first league goal, did much the same, except adding his little tricks and flairs, making it too easy for Torino to block.

Marek Hamšík, too, missed a great chance early in the second half, getting into a one-on-one with Padelli and then scuffing his shot. But at least the Slovak looked much better today than he has in recent outings. His passes were perfectly weighted and on target, and he continuously set up his teammates for shots. He may still be a bit frustrated about his recent performances, which might explain his hesitation in front of goal.

As the match withered away, Torino experienced one final moment of frustration. Migjen Basha, on for Alessandro Gazzi at the half, did what he could to deny Goran Pandev, tackling the forward as he headed toward goal. When Pandev went down, De Marco adjudged it to be a denial of a goal scoring opportunity, and handed Basha a straight red. Again, the call didn't seem quite right, especially since it was Pandev.

So, are Torino set to start another Twitter war, now?

Napoli: Reina; Armero, Albiol, Fernández, Maggio; Džemaili, İnler; Insigne, Hamšík (Zapata 81), Mertens (Pandev 75); Higuaín (Callejón 68)

Goals: Higuaín 14', 32

Torino: Padelli; Moretti, Glik, Darmian; Masiello, Bellomo, Vives, Gazzi (Basha 46), D'Ambrosio (Maksimovic 62); Barreto, Cerci (Meggiorini 46)

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