A win! A win! And it's a win against Parma at home, which feels like it hasn't happened this millennium! It wasn't an exciting match, but quality goals from Duvan Zapata and Dries Mertens were more than enough to overwhelm a very poor Parma side, and Napoli head in to the break with a 2-0 win in their pocket.
To be honest, despite the scoreline this wasn't always Napoli's most assured and highest-quality performance. It took quite awhile for the side to gel in this match, letting Parma get away with some shoddy defensive work and almost got carved open on a couple of attacks from the visitors. Once they got rolling, though, it looked like there was very little Parma could do to stop them.
There certainly wasn't anything they could do to stop Duvan Zapata. Set up by a Christian Maggio cross, Zapata literally bulled his way through Parma's defense, making Gabriel Paletta look like a training dummy before finally getting knocked down in the penalty area. Zapata didn't let his loss of footing stop him, though, using his strength and long reach to get his foot on the ball and poke it home even when Parma thought they were safe.
Napoli quickly launched forward on the front foot again, continuing to pin Parma back and dominate the ball. Of particular effect were the runs of Jose Callejon in to the box, with Massimo Gobbi proving absolutely helpless to stop him. Gobbi finally caught Callejon standing still, barging in to him while Callejon tried to bring down a ball... but the challenge came in the penalty area, and the referee rightly pointed to the spot. Dries Mertens stepped over the penalty and absolutely blasted a shot that Antonio Mirante got a hand on, but the penalty was hit with such power that Mirante only deflected it's course a little bit as it stung the back of the net.
From there, well, there really wasn't a whole lot to do. Napoli were content to control the game and while they certainly had chances to score, they didn't push as hard for them as they did earlier in the match. Parma rarely offered much of a threat, with only on real chance for them coming in the second half, when Francesco Lodi pulled off a brilliant cut-back that left Rafael Cabral wrong-footed, but his shot cracked off the post and Parma were left scoreless.
For his part, Mirante had himself a very solid day in goal. Zapata had two other gorgeous chances that Mirante did very well to save, and he also parried tough shots from Callejon and Gonzalo Higuain. If Parma had a lesser keeper in goal, they would have lost by a much harsher margin than just 2-0.
In the end, it was an easy win. Not a pretty one or a flashy one, but an easy one. Given how long it's been since Napoli won in the league, we'll take the win and clean sheet happily. Napoli stand third in the league, pending this weekend's results, and that's not a half-bad place to be in heading in to the break. Now the team is going to get ready to head to Qatar and face Juventus in the Supercoppa Italia, and then it's time for a well-deserved and much needed rest.
Napoli: Rafael; Maggio, Henrique, Britos, Ghoulam; Gargano, Lopez; Mertens (De Guzman 64'), Hamsik, Callejon (Jorginho 78'); Duvan (Higuain 69')
Goals: Zapata 19', Mertens 29' (pen.)
Parma: Mirante; Lucarelli, Santacroce (Mendes 76'), Paletta; Gobbi, Mauri, Acquah, Galloppa (Lodi 58'), De Ceglie (Rispoli 46'); Cassano, Palladino