Napoli did everything they could, earning an emphatic 4-2 win against Sampdoria on the last day of the Serie A season, with each of Marek Hamsik, Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, and Jose Callejon getting on the scoresheet. But that wasn’t quite enough to meet the club’s goals, with results elsewhere meaning that Napoli finished third in the table.
The match started slowly for Napoli, struggling to link up in the final third and even to hold consistent possession. But they slowly started getting things together, and of course who else but Dries Mertens could find a way to break the deadlock out of absolutely nowhere.
Six minutes later, Lorenzo Insigne scored a jaw-dropper of his own, capitalizing on a stellar run with a gorgeous lob of the goalkeeper to the far corner. That gave Napoli a 2-0 lead going into halftime, one that they extended to 3-0 just minutes into the half with a diving header from Marek Hamsik.
Sadly, Sampdoria would get into the scoring act with a goal from Fabio Quagliarella — who else? — thanks largely to a bad slip-up in marking from Vlad Chiriches. Napoli wouldn’t have to wait too long to restore their three-goal lead, though, with Jose Callejon scoring one of his own in the 65th minute to give all four of Napoli’s fearsome attackers a goal in this match, just the first time this season that each of Hamsik, Mertens, Insigne, and Callejon have scored in the same game.
With the result in little doubt, the attention of Napoli fans shifted to Rome, where Roma and Genoa were having a slugfest in Francesco Totti’s final match for the giallorossi. The result of that match had major implications for Napoli, with a win for the partenopei and any dropped points for Roma meant that Napoli would finish second. When Callejon scored his goal, it was 1-1, but in the 74th minute Daniele De Rossi scored to sink the spirits of Napoli fans in the stadium. Those same fans were roaring just five minutes later, though, when Darko Lazovic leveled the score again to keep Napoli’s hopes alive.
A distracted Napoli side gave up a late, if meaningless, goal to Ricky Alvares in the 90th minute — and them promptly got punched in the gut to the tune of a concurrent Roma goal that forced Napoli back into third place in the Serie A table, sending them to a Champions League qualification playoff instead of directly qualifying to the group stage.
Ah, well. Napoli still have a good chance at qualifying, and now they have a long summer to retool and improve. On to the next... season.
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Koulibaly, Chiriches, Ghoulam; Zielinski (Rog 67’), Jorginho (Diawara 71’), Hamsik (Giaccherini 84’); Callejon, Mertens, Insigne
Goals: Mertens (36’), Insigne (42’), Hamsik (49’), Callejon (65’)
Sampdoria: Puggioni; Škriniar, Regini, Bereszynski, Silvestre; Torreira (Palombo 66’), Barreto (Alvarez 77’), Bruno (Praet 53’), Linetty; Schick, Quagliarella
Goals: Quagliarella (40’), Alvares (90’)