Napoli have done what they can, beating Torino 5-0 in what was frankly an easy match for the partenopei to move provisionally back into second place in Serie A. Now they have to wait for the last match of the day in the league to see if Juventus can beat Roma, because if they do, second place will belong completely to Napoli as long as they keep their heads on straight and keep winning games.
Torino did not really seem to be ready for this match when it started, with Napoli utterly dominating the early stages of the game, not making the kinds of attacking runs or defensive movements you’re used to seeing from them. Their play was almost lacksadasical — so much so that Jose Callejon could have walked the ball into the net in the seventh minute if he wanted, though he elected instead for a neat finish past Joe Hart after bursting through Torino’s shockingly stagnant defense on an Allan throughball.
That would be Napoli’s only goal of the half, though not for lack of trying. But their forwards tended to go for the flashy goal instead of the simple one, and despite utterly dominating the run of play for almost the entirety of the half, went into the break with just that 1-0 lead instead of something potentially much bigger.
Torino actually started the second half playing well, getting forward regularly in the opening spell and putting more pressure on Napoli’s defense in the first ten minutes of the second half than they did in the entire first half. But Napoli’s defense held firm, and at the hour mark a brilliant through ball from Marek Hamsik found Dries Mertens in the penalty area. He didn’t like his shot selection, though, and instead laid out a no-look assist to the onrushing Lorenzo Insigne to hammer home, leaving Joe Hart flailing uselessly in goal.
Of course, this season being what it is, it wasn’t long before Mertens scored one for himself, running on the ball in the penalty and turning Luca Rossettini inside out before cutting back and rifling the ball in with his right foot. Moments later, it was Callejon scoring again, this time a sliding finish at the far post that left Hart trying to figure out what was going on. He kept asking himself questions — and asking his defense, for that matter — when Piotr Zielinski rattled home a shot after a wild defensive breakdown left Napoli with three attackers against just Hart just a few more moments later.
At one point in the second half, the broadcast put up a startling statistic — Napoli were averaging a little over three times as many touches per possession than Torino were, and that was with Torino spending most of the match knocking the ball around side to side trying to play it safe, where Napoli were being more aggressive and taking risks. That’s an incredible display of dominance, and Napoli honestly looked like they could have won by a much, much wider scoreline than they did.
The result and performance certainly showed the confidence and form that Napoli have been building up in recent weeks, and puts them in as good of a position as they’re going to be in to try to take second place from Roma before the end of the campaign. Napoli have now scored 86 goals in Serie A this season and 107 across all competitions — that’s an incredible figure, especially considering how concerned many were over the impact of Gonzalo Higuain’s departure on Napoli’s attack. Hopefully that will be enough for them to achieve what they can of their goals in the league, because at this point it’s second place and the Champions League or nothing but disappointment for Napoli.
On to the next.
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Allan (Zielinski 64’), Jorginho, Hamsik (Rog 66’); Insigne, Mertens, Callejon (Milik 81’)
Goals: Callejon (7’, 76’), Insigne (60’), Mertens (72’), Zielinski (78’)
Torino: Hart; Zappacosta, Rossettini, Carlao, Molinaro; Benassi (Gustafson 52’), Baselli (Obi 75’); Falque, Ljajic, Boye (Iturbe 59’); Belotti