Napoli needed a strong and confident Champions League performance with Feyenoord in town, and with the Stadio San Paolo ricking that’s exactly what they got, riding an incredible performance from Lorenzo Insigne and a good showing by the rest of the squad to walk past their Dutch foes in a 3-1 victory.
Insigne scored very early into the match, with Napoli applying good pressure in the opening minutes and forcing a bad possession mistake that Feyenoord regretted dearly. Jose Callejon collected the loose ball and fed Insigne, who beat a midfielder to the ball before waltzing his way up the pitch to thunder home a shot that left Brad Jones spinning in Feyenoord’s goal, and gave Napoli the early lead they needed. That moment was the start of an incredibly impressive performance for Insigne, who for long stretches of the match had complete control of the proceedings in front of him, running at the spear of Napoli’s most dangerous attacks and at times creating major attacking threats from absolutely nothing.
Napoli were definitely the better side throughout the first half, but failed to press home their advantage thanks in some small part by some questionable refereeing, including what looked like a clear penalty on a Marek Hamsik breakaway that was denied by the Scottish man running the match. Fortunately, Napoli’s defense was able to keep Feyenoord’s handful of attacking opportunities at bay — Nikola Maksimovic was utterly fantastic almost every time he was called on in this match — and they held that 1-0 lead all the way to halftime.
They’d take the pressure off themselves in a big way just moments into the second half, when another wave of pressure on Feyenoord’s shaky defense generated another turnover, this time with Dries Mertens gathering the ball and taking it to goal himself just moments after Kevin Diks coughed the ball up. Barely 20 minutes later, and Napoli ran their lead out to 3-0 after a dominant stretch saw Feyenoord’s defense make another fatal mistake, this time with Jose Callejon punishing it to find the back of the net off an assist from Mertens.
That third goal came moments after Feyenoord nearly closed the gap to 2-1 when a dubious penalty was awarded for a “foul” committed by Faouzi Ghoulam that looked a lot more like Steven Berghuis tripping over his own feet, if we’re being generous. Fortunately, Pepe Reina was up to the challenge, leaving Jens Toornstra utterly
Napoli’s easy dominance looked headed for a clean sheet, but a last-second mistake in stoppage time saw that spoiled, as both Kalidou Koulibaly and Nikola Maksimovic badly misplayed a combination play from Tony Vilhena and Sofyan Amrabat, with Koulibaly pulling up short for no clear reason, leaving a slowly-moving Maksimovic in a terrible position to deal with the attack. Amrabat was able to score easily, and Napoli’s defenders were left with major egg on their face.
Still, this was an important and much needed win, and aside from that moment of the defense falling asleep just before the final whistle Napoli utterly dominated the match and looked very much like the dominant force they can be. This was an important win to pick up, getting much-needed points ahead of their two straight crucial matches against Manchester City over the next six weeks.
Napoli: Pepe Reina; Elseid Hysaj, Nikola Maksimovic, Kalidou Koulibaly, Faouzi Ghoulam; Allan, Jorginho (Amadou Diawara 80’), Marek Hamsik (Piotr Zielinski 70’); Jose Callejon (Marko Rog 73’), Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne
Goals: Insigne (7’), Mertens (49’), Callejon (70’)
Feyenoord: Brad Jones; Kevin Diks, Renato Tapia (Sven van Beek 78’), Jeremiah St Juste, Ridgeciano Haps; Karim El Ahmadi, Sofyan Amrabat; Jens Toornstra (Bilal Basacikoglu 69’), Tony Vilhena, Steven Beghuis (Sam Larsson 86’); Jean Boëtius
Goal: Amrabat (90’+2)