Napoli went into a hostile Stadio Olimpico environment to face Lazio and came away 2-0 winners, overcoming their most hostile crowd of the season thanks to quality goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Callejon, as well as a brave performance from Kalidou Koulibaly in the face of racism and hatred from the stands.
The start of the match was a bit slow and even, with Napoli spending some time feeling Lazio out instead of their traditional full-on assault from the first whistle. It was a bit odd to see, but their slower and steadier approach paid off in two ways -- Lazio could not get forward with any semblance of effectiveness, and it let them find and exploit a weakness in Lazio's defense twice in a matter of minutes.
Wesley Hoedt was clearly uncomfortable trying to mark Gonzalo Higuain one-on-one, struggling with his positioning and technique working against the red-hot Argentine. Napoli started pulling Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon in tighter to force Hoedt's central defense partner, Mauricio, to pay more attention to them, leaving Hoedt to deal with Higuain all by his lonesome. That, in turn, lead to this to create Napoli's opening goal:
Credit: user improb on r/soccer
Callejon took Mauricio out of the play with his run towards the near post before pulling the ball back, and Higuain made Hoedt look useless. It took a rebound off Higuain's chest to actually score the goal thanks to Federico Marchetti's initial save, but Napoli still got the goal -- and Higuain has now scored a stunning 23 goals in 23 games.
Just three minutes later, Napoli struck again, once more taking advantage of Hoedt's shakiness. Hoedt and Mauricio were marking Higuain and Callejon up top, but Mauricio was in a bad position to deal with them once Lorenzo Insigne popped up a lovely long ball over the top. Hoedt hesitated as he expected Higuain to chase the ball, but the Argentine pulled up and Callejon turned on the jets to run right past Hoedt and everyone else before launching this lovely chip over Marchetti.
Credit: user FireEyedBoy on r/soccer
And that, well, was mostly it for the match. Napoli had a few more chances to score but rarely pushed very hard after going up two goals, and they completely dominated Lazio's efforts to score, preventing them from getting even one shot on target. It wasn't Napoli's most attractive and demanding effort of the season, and certainly fell a far cry short of the 5-0 pasting they gave Lazio earlier this season, but it more than got the job done.
The match as a whole was marred, however, by a very loud, obnoxious, and horrible group of Lazio fans. From the first minute, every time Kalidou Koulibaly touched the ball or tackled a Lazio player, he was showered with boos and whistles and much, much worse: racist chants and monkey noises. The horrifying display grew worse as the match wore on, ultimately forcing referee Massimiliano Irrati to stop the game for several minutes while Lazio players and staff pleaded with the fans to stop.
Sadly, they did not, but that didn't change the final result. Two goals and a clean sheet mean three more points in Napoli's pocket and another round on top of Serie A. Maintaining this momentum will be vital, as Napoli are entering a very difficult stretch of their schedule. Anything can happen over the next few weeks, but based on current form there's plenty of reason for optimism.
On to the next, and screw the haters.
Napoli: Reina; Maggio, Albiol, Koulibaly, Strinic; Lopez, Jorginho, Hamsik (Chalobah 89'); Callejon, Higuain (Gabbiadini 70'), Insigne (Mertens 64')
Goals: Higuain (24'), Callejon (27')
Lazio: Marchetti; Basta, Mauricio, Hoedt, Konko; Parolo, Onazi, Lulic; Candreva (Keita 39'), Klose (Mauri 70'), Anderson (Djordjevic 88')