Napoli played some dreadful, insipid football on Thursday, never seeming to completely wake up and realize that they were losing to the 16th-placed side in Serie A. And losing they were, with the match ending 4-2 in the favor of Empoli.
Napoli gave up three goals in the first half, each more horrifying than the last. Napoli were gutted by a quick throw-in early, when Miguel Britos went to sleep and Kalidou Koulibaly couldn't get over to cover in time as Massimo Maccarone waltzed through to score. Then, late in the half, a botched clearance of a low cross by Mariano Andujar smashed off Britos' face and in to the back of the net for an own goal. The misery wasn't over, as Empoli punished another Napoli switch-off in defense to earn a third goal right at the stroke of halftime.
The 3-0 scoreline wasn't a fluke. Empoli completely outplayed Napoli in the first half, with the partenopei never really getting out of first gear. Empoli were always going to be a difficult opponent, they have been all year long, but Napoli never put in anything like a convincing stretch of play and continuously shot themselves in the foot with lackadaisical play off the ball and sloppy possession, and that continued through much of the second half as well. Napoli would earn a goal of their own via a second own goal in the match -- almost a mirror image of Britos' mishap, actually, -- but Own Goal earned a hat trick when substitute Raul Albiol lost track of a free kick and turned it in to his own net.
Napoli clawed one more back when Marek Hamsik scored in extra time, but by then it was past too little, too late. Napoli are now five and six point back of Roma and Lazio, and with the remaining schedules can probably kiss finishing in a Champions League place goodbye. So I guess that means it's a Europa League title or bust if Napoli want to make the Champions League next season. No pressue.
Since that match pretty well sucked, have some cute things to cleanse your brain:
Empoli: Sepe; Laurini (Rui 79'), Tonelli, Rugani, Hysaj; Vecino, Valdifiori, Croce; Saponara (Zielinski 63'); Maccarone, Pucciarelli (Verdi 81')
Goals: Maccarone (8'), Britos OG (43'), Saponara (45'+1), Albiol OG (81')
Napoli: Andujar; Maggio, Koulibaly, Britos, Ghoulam (Albiol 52'); Inler (Gabbiadini 72'), Gargano; Callejon, Hamsik, Mertens (Insigne 60'); Higuain
Goals: Laurini OG (64'), Hamsik (90'+1)