The score was close, but the action on the pitch was not as Napoli dominated the day against Torino in a 2-1 win that saw Lorenzi Insigne getting back to his best in a tremendous team performance. There were some controversial moments in the match, with a questionable first-half penalty and both managers getting sent off late on, but Napoli were rarely in much danger in this game.
Napoli came storming out of the gates, putting on a blistering attack that Torino and goalkeeper Daniele Padelli just barely weathered. Jose Callejon came within inches of a brace in the opening 15 minutes, and several other Napoli players had chances to score as well.
Just as concerns were mounting that maybe Napoli were going to struggle to break the door down, though, Lorenzo Inisgne stepped up and scored an absolutely fantastic goal, lobbing Padelli off a half-volley from a Jose Callejon assist. It's a goal that we'll be seeing in highlight reels for a long time, and will almost certainly be a Goal of the Year candidate at the end of the season.
Napoli kept dominating the run of play for a time, just a few minutes after scoring they'd have a few shaky moments in possession that lead to a near disaster. Bruno Peres burst into the box and Faouzi Ghoulam went in for a risky tackle to clear the ball behind for a corner -- but there was contact with Peres, and the referee behind the goal called for a penalty. On closer inspection, it looks like a bad call, as Ghoulam had cleared the ball out of Peres' path before the players contacted each other. The referees don't get to use replay, though, so the call stood, and Fabio Quagliarella equalized from the spot despite Pepe Reina getting a hand to his drive to the corner.
That lead to a brief spell where the momentum threatened to shift Torino's way, but Napoli didn't take long to get things going back in their favor and start hammering away at Padelli's goal again. They needed a goal by halftime to make sure the momentum stayed headed in the right direction, though -- and a goal is exactly what they got, with Insigne playing provider to Marek Hamsik, setting up a goal for his captain to celebrate his 300th Serie A appearance.
The second half was played a bit more cagily, with Napoli focused more on frustrating Torino's efforts to score while looking more to wait for more opportune chances to score rather than forcing the issue themselves. Kalidou Koulibaly was the man to watch in the second half, threatening on set pieces and making huge stops in defense -- though a poor touch on the ball almost gave Maxi Lopez a chance to set up another equalizer for Torino, but Koulibaly's recovery effort and a poorly aimed cross kept the score at 2-1.
It was not long after that incident that something strange happened. Action on the pitch stopped because basically the entire Torino coaching staff got up on the touchline and started yelling at referee Marco Di Bello -- an unpopular man with both teams throughout the match -- and his assistants. Giampiero Ventura and at least one of his assitants were promptly sent off -- but so too was Maurizio Sarri, who from the camera angels we were shown did not appear to be involved in the shouting match. It was a bizarre situation made more so by Sarri hanging around the exit tunnel smoking and Ventura turning back twice to scream some more before finally leaving the pitch.
That would be the final notable action of the match, though, with only a couple of half-chances apiece for each team before the final whistle blew. It was an important win for Napoli -- not only does it allow them to build positive momentum coming right out of the gates in 2016, it sees them keep pace in the crowded top section of the Serie A table as all their direct rivals won -- except for Roma, who could only manage a draw against Chievo. Napoli remain in third place, the same spot they held going into the break, and are just one point behind Inter, who were unimpressive despite earning a win over Empoli.
Anything can happen this season -- and as long as Napoli keep on winning the games they need to win, "anything" might just wind up being something truly amazing at the end of the campaign.
Now it's time to get ready for Frosinone this weekend. On to the next.
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Lopez (Allan 74'), Valdifiori, Hamsik (Chalobah 88'); Callejon, Higuain, Insigne (Mertens 68')
Goals: Insigne (16'), Hamsik (41')
Torino: Padelli; Bovo, Glik, Moretti; Peres (Zappacosta 74'), Acquah (Benassi 81'), Vives, Baselli, Molinaro; Belotti (Lopez 66'), Quagliarella
Goal: Quagliarella (pen. 21')