Napoli needed a win in a bad way, and that's exactly what they got, dominating from first whistle to last as Hellas Verona fell 3-0. Manolo Gabbiadini dominated the day up front, Verona went down to ten men just before the half, and Napoli finished the job in a way we've too infrequently seen of late.
Sorry for the late recap, internet was down because of course it was.
It was obvious from the start of the match that Hellas Verona's first, second, and third priorities were to try to bunker up and hit Napoli on the counter. With an injured Pepe Reina in goal and the recently-shake Vlad Chiriches on the back line, they were hoping that enough hard work would pay off -- but some poor lineup choices cost them any chance of that happening. Well, Napoli bringing their standard of play back up helped too.
Napoli came roaring out of the gates, taking full advantage of Verona's imbalanced lineup and lack of a proper holding midfielder to dominate possession and constantly hammer away at their back line. Twice Napoli were denied goals by the woodwork, and several other times Pierluigi Gollini would deny them with spectacular saves in goal, but when Manolo Gabbiadini scored in the 33rd minute, you knew Napoli were far from done scoring in this match.
And let's not overlook Gabbiadini's stellar performance in this match. While his goal was relatively simple, it was well earned by his body of work -- he never stopped moving, seeking space and opportunities. When he was on the ball, he either took on a defender or played in Lorenzo Insigne or Jose Callejon for chances of their own. It was exactly the kind of performance that fans wanted to see from Gabbiadini after his struggles for much of this season,
That constant work, those constant disruptions of Verona's back line, helped lead to Napoli's second goal and greatest advantage of the match, when Samuel Souprayen's desperation tackle just before first half stoppage time ended in a red card and a Napoli penalty, one which Insigne put away with ease.
Hellas Verona tried to adapt to going a man down in the second half , but they never could get anything going in attack again. They managed just four shots in the second half while bunkering as deep as they could to try to keep Napoli at bay. For a time it worked -- Napoli's attack was clearly slowed -- but they were wearing down faster than Napoli were, and with a one man disadvantage, that difference in energy would prove the difference when, in the 70th minute, Omar El Kaddouri was able to easily slip through Jose Callejon for Napoli's third goal.
That would be the last goal of the night, but Napoli weren't done impressing, continuing to take the match to Verona until the final whistle. The performance on a whole was exactly what the partenopei needed after last week's brutal loss, and now they'll be hoping that this is the turnaround they need to finish the season strong despite their setbacks. Regardless, all eyes will be on Roma on Monday as they take on Bologna, hoping the giallorossi stumble and lose ground in their chase for Napoli's place in the table.
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Chiriches, Ghoulam (Strinic 87'); Lopez, Jorginho, Hamsik (Chalobah 79'); Callejon, Gabbiadini (El Kaddouri 68'), Insigne
Goals: Gabbiadini (33'), Insigne (pen. 45'), Callejon, (70')
Hellas Verona: Gollini; Pisano, Bianchetti, Samir, Souprayen (red 44'); Wszolek (Pazzini 52'), Ionita, Viviani (Greco 52'), Emanuelson, Rebic (Marrone 73'); Gomez