It took going down early to spark it, but Napoli put on a heck of a show as they got back to their winning ways, downing Sampdoria 4-2 and witnessing the first goal for Lorenzo Insigne since he went down with his knee injury earlier this season.
ed. note: Apologies for the seriously late recap. Migraines are pretty much impossible to work through.
Things got off to about as bad a start as you can imagine, with Raul Albiol turning in an own goal in the 12th minute when he tried to block a cross aimed for Stefano Okaka inside the far post. Block it he did, but it deflected straight in to the back of the net instead. As embarrassing a moment as it was, it wouldn't have ended much differently if he had let it go by, because Mariano Andujar was in no position to cover a shot from Okaka.
While it would have been easy for Napoli to just hang their heads, fold up shop, and give in there, as we've seen happen in similar moments at times this season, they instead kicked things in to high gear, seeming to finally get rolling after a sleepy start to the match. While things were all Sampdoria, all the time early on, once Napoli shifted the momentum their way they just didn't let go. Manolo Gabbiadini combined with Gonzalo Higuain to equalize the score just after the stroke of 30 minutes, and almost before you could blink, the same pair combined again in the 34th minute, this time with Higuain finishing off a pass from Gabbiadini to put Napoli ahead. They probably could have scored another by halftime, but it was just as well they didn't, because a one goal lead gave them an excuse to push hard after the break.
That push saw Lorenzo Insigne, starting his second match after his return from injury, work hard to steal the ball in midfield from Lorenzo De Silvestri. The way Sampdoria's defense and midfield were spread out as they'd been looking to attack left then vulnerable to Insigne's run with the ball up the pitch -- though the run itself deserves credit, as the stutter-steps Insigne took served to keep the defenders still back off-balance. leaving them vulnerable to the curling shot he unleashed once he found his spot. That shot beat Emiliano Viviano with ease, sending the San Paolo in to rapturous celebration, and the tears on Insigne's face showed just how much that moment meant to the son of the city.
Napoli kept full control of the match, keeping up their siege of Sampdoria's defense, and finding a fourth when Marek Hamsik was bundled over in the box, allowing Higuain to score a second from the spot. That well-taken penalty completed a sterling day for Napoli, one that couldn't even be dented by a consolation goal for Sampdoria just before injury time.
The win allowed Napoli to take a rare chance to pull closer to both of their remaining rivals for Champions League places in the Serie A table. They're still in fourth for now, but they sit just two points back of Roma and three behind Lazio after both capitol clubs failed to win over the weekend. If Napoli can keep up their recent momentum, the end of this season could get fun as heck.
Napoli: Andujar; Henrique, Albiol, Britos, Ghoulam; Jorginho, Lopez (Gargano 76'); Callejon, Gabbiadini (Hamsik 66'), Insigne; Higuain (Zapata 82')
Goals: Gabbiadini (31'), Higuain (34', pen. 81'), Insigne (47')
Sampdoria: Viviano; De Silvestri, Silvestre, Romagnoli, Mesbah; Palombo (Duncan 63'), Obiang; Eder (Muriel 45'), Soriano (Bergessio 76'), Eto'o; Okaka
Goals: Albiol OG (12'), Muriel (89')