It's always fun to play Chievo in Verona. And by "fun", I really mean absolutely dreadful, with Napoli coming off the loser in the majority of recent games.
So aren't we all thrilled that the partenopei will have to make at least one additional trip to Verona this season? No? Well, we should be now because it appears that Napoli have finally broken the curse of fair Verona.
It seemed like things were off to a fantastic start when Marek Hamšík scored his third goal in two matches. In the 13th minute, Marek got on the end of a ball from Lorenzo Insigne, took his shot from distance, and sent the ball low and to the right.
But of course things couldn't go that easily at the Bentegodi. By the 24th minute, the Flying Donkeys had equalized. Alberto Paloschi left Juan Zuniga for dead, then made Miguel Britos look utterly stupid, before tapping past Pepe Reina.
Yes, Rafa Benítez, you should be perfectly satisfied with Britos as your starting centerback.
Fortunately, before we all had too much time to freak out, José Callejón put in the equalizer for Napoli. That's the winger's second goal in as many matches -- do you think Dries Mertens is questioning his existence yet? What made this goal particularly adorable is that Callejón attempted to climb the sign boards, but very nearly fell on his face. Perhaps he simply wanted stitches like Gonzalo Higuaín.
But because God hates Napoli fans, he allowed Chievo to put in another before the halftime whistle. Of course, this also could have something to do with the fact that Rafa was trying to play rather defensively, with a side that really doesn't have a lot of, well, talent at defense. Pepe Reina didn't help matters, as he really should've gotten down quicker to save Paloschi's second goal.
Fortunately for all of our hearts, Napoli turned it around in the second half, retaking the lead and actually keeping it this time. It took the visitors some time to break down Christian Puggioni, with the Chievo keeper shaving shots from Lorenzo Insigne and Gökhan Inler. No doubt Puggioni thought he'd halted yet another Napoli attack when Hamšík volleyed in his second after the ball rebounded off the keeper's foot.
Captain Hamsik came off with fifteen minutes to go, no doubt to give him a bit of rest after his, you know, four goals in two matches. Edinson who?
Higuaín must've been getting a bit envious of all the attention Marek was getting, because he decided it was high time to score his first Serie A goal. It was a bit of a blooper, to be honest. Insigne turned provider again, sending a ball over the top that Higuaín managed to control. But the ball more or less bounced off the forward's foot, creating Higuaín's first goal -- and Napoli's fourth of the night.
Chievo Verona Starting XI: Puggioni; Sardo, Papp, Cesar, Drame'; Hetemaj, Radovanovic, Rigoni, Sestu; Thereau, Paloschi
Napoli Starting XI: Reina; Maggio, Albiol, Britos, Zuniga; Inler, Behrami (Dzemaili 65); Callejón, Hamšík (Pandev 75), Insigne; Higuain (Armero 85)
Goals: Hamsik 13 (N); Paloschi 24 (C); Callejón 27 (N); Paloschi 40 (C); Hamsik 64 (N); Higuaín 70 (N)