The start of the match was poor, but almost everything past the ten minute mark was sterling as Napoli ran away against Genoa in a 3-2 win carried by Dries Mertens hat trick of jaw-dropping goals to re-claim their place atop the Serie A table.
Napoli seemed to be sleep walking through the early minutes of the match, allowing Genoa to take control early on and leading to Adel Taatabt’s fourth-minute goal. It was admittedly a lovely finish that took a good bit of skill to execute, but you still have to imagine that if Napoli were actually aware that the game had started, they could have prevented it from happening.
But Napoli started to wake up around the tenth minute, and once they did they quickly took full control of the match. Dries Mertens scored in the 14th minute off a fabulous free kick, and Napoli started to show off their divine attacking possession game at full pace, sending Genoa’s defense spinning in circles for much of the rest of the first half and really showing off just how good they can be. Mertens’ second goal, which came at the 30 minute mark, was an absolute stunner, taking a perfect touch to kill a long pass over the top from Amadou Diawara, then with his next touch lancing the ball past Mattia Perin to put Napoli ahead for a lead they would not relinquish.
Genoa’s defense did better in the second half of the match, starting to read Napoli’s cutbacks in the final third that had given them fits — but Napoli changed to bringing in the switching passes that have given them success, leaving Genoa again unbalanced and vulnerable to a lethal through ball from Lorenzo Insigne to Mertens, who again finished with lethal perfection to give Napoli a 3-1 lead. The goal was ultimately ruled an own goal for Ervin Zukanovic, but we’ll give Dries credit in our hearts because it really was a phenomenal strike.
That extra goal would prove decisive, because Naples-born Genoa defender Armando Izzo took advantage of some chaos in the box on a late set piece to bring the score to 3-2, and Genoa nearly made good on several counters in the minutes following. But Napoli’s defense held firm — desperately so at times — and the partenopei left the Marassi with a much-needed win and a vast improvement over their recent performances to re-take their temporarily lost place atop Serie A after Inter’s win earlier in the round on Tuesday.
Hopefully this performance was a sign of things to come, and Napoli can continue their dominance of Italy. On to the next.