Relive Sports Mole's coverage of a dominant display for Napoli at Genoa in Serie A.
By Liam Power, Reporter Filed: Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 16:40 UK
Last Updated: Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 13:07 UK
Napoli travelled to Genoa this evening knowing that a win would be enough to take them top of Serie A, for 24 hours at least.
Rafael Benitez made wholesale changes to his starting XI but the Azzurri took the lead regardless after 15 minutes, with Goran Pandev breaking the deadlock in assured fashion.
Pandev doubled his tally soon after, smashing home from close range as his brace proved to be decisive at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
Look back on a fifth win in six matches for Napoli in Serie A by following Sports Mole's minute-by-minute commentary below.
4.43pmAfternoon Calcio fans. Round six from Serie A begins today with what promises to be intriguing clash between sides at the opposite ends of the table, with Napoli travelling to Genoa.
4.45pmNapoli have made a fantastic start to the season under Rafael Benitez, winning their first four matches in quick succession. The Spaniard suffered his first hiccup in midweek though with a 1-1 draw against newly-promoted Sassuolo, so it will be interesting to see how they respond today.
4.47pmThe Azzurri are back in the Champions League this season, which means a game every three days and rotation a necessity. Genoa have no such worries but are struggling nonetheless, with just one superb 3-0 victory over local rivals Sampdoria in five league games.
4.49pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS! We have received the starting lineups from Naples and Benitez has rotated beyond all expectations, making no less than seven changes with Arsenal ahead on Tuesday night. A full look at who has made the XI will come in just a few moments, with a debut for Colombian striker Duvan Zapata among the surprises.
4.57pmGenoa are without a string of first-team options through injury this afternoon, including Andrea Bertolacci and Luca Antonelli on the treatment table. With that in mind Liverani's side will be heavily reliant on Alberto Gilardino today as they go in search of a first home win, with the Italy international joined in attack by former Napoli striker Emanuele Calaiò.
4.59pmPREDCITION! As we await the two teams in Genoa there is just time for me to predict a much tighter clash than the bookies expect this afternoon, particularly with Higuain and Hamsik rested by Napoli. Benitez has given some fringe players a chance to impress this afternoon and I expect them to respond, earning a 2-1 away win.
1 minWe are underway at the Ferrais as Napoli begin proceedings, shooting from left to right in their familiar light-blue strip. Benitez's much-changed side will be under instant pressure to deliver and send Napoli back to the top of Serie A today!
3 minAn early chance for Napoli as Pandev looks to meet a cross from Zuniga, with Gamberini just able to come across and muscle the forward off the ball. The visitors are soon back on the front foot as Insigne flicks into the penalty area, with Duvan just unable to make contact as Portanova smashes behind for a corner kick.
5 minYELLOW CARD! A very early booking for Napoli defender Mesto, who gets no leniency from the referee after showing studs in a high challenge on Antonini. That sets a dangerous precedent here after just five minutes.
7 minNapoli have their second corner of the match early on but fail to beat the first defender at the near post, which allows Genoa to come clear through Antonini. His cross in search of Gilardino looks promising, but is headed away by Britos.
9 minBritos has sustained a bloody nose there as he beat Gilardino to the ball, forcing a break in play. It's certainly been a frenetic start at the Ferrais, with Napoli momentarily down to 10 men as the Uruguay defender receives treatment behind the goal.
12 minBritos is back on the pitch as a feisty start continues with Pandev closed down in possession by two players. Genoa look up for this one as Vrsaljko wins the ball out wide, before winning a corner kick as his deflected cross is blocked behind by Zuniga.
14 minReina's quick thinking sets up a lightening break for Napoli, as Pandev twists to find space inside the penalty area. His short pass in tended to square the ball for Callejon, but Gamberini reads the danger and just manages to intercept.
15 minNapoli are ahead as Pandev seizes on a mistake to break the deadlock with an assured finish. The forward controlled neatly after Kucka's interception kindly fell his way, but he still had plenty to do. From 25 yards Pandev stepped inside before guiding a low shot just inside the far post, leaving Perin rooted to the spot. What a start for the visitors.
18 minCallejon and Insigne have just switched wings to help Napoli comfortably keep possession following that opener, with Inler eventually skewing a strike just beyond the post from around 30 yards.
21 minGenoa are feeling the pressure here as Antonini heads back to Perin but miscues to gift the visitors a corner kick. The hosts regroup to clear the following cross, before deciding to keep possession deep in their own half.
24 minPatient probing here for Napoli as Zuniga sends back to Albiol, with the Napoli visiting support in full voice after a superb start. Genoa eventually win the ball back in central midfield, with Kucka fouled by Behrami.
27 minNapoli are flying and extend their lead through Pandev, who has his second goal inside 25 minutes. The forward met Insigne's deflected flick in acres of space, with Genoa's defence horribly exposed. With the ball bouncing Pandev did well to control his finish, guiding into the bottom corner. 2-0 to Benitez's boys.
30 minGenoa look stunned by that second goal but work their way forward when play resumes, with Biondini winning a corner kick. When the cross comes in from Matuzalem he catches Reina in two minds, but the ball sails just beyond Gilardino and out without contact from a congested penalty area.
33 minMore like it from the hosts as Gilardino's drops off out wide, winning a third corner kick. When the cross comes in Biondini's low delivery is a poor one, allowing Albiol to stoop down clear.
35 minYELLOW CARD! A nasty challenge from Matuzalem on Behrami has Benitez out to complain on the touchline. The Brazilian was late and had studs showing in that sliding challenge, and gets a booking for his troubles.
38 minZuniga is sold short by Callejon to end a prolonged spell of Napoli possession, with Behrami deciding to remove the risk of a counter by quickly barging into the back of Gilardino.
40 minSUBSTITUTION: Napoli have made an early change and it looks tactical rather than enforced. Romanian striker Stoian has been brought on for Gamberini and will join Gilardino in attack, with Genoa switching to a 4-4-2 formation.
43 minZapata is flagged offside to continue a largely anonymous start for the Colombian striker, while at the other end Mesto does well to prevent a corner kick on the far side.
45 minGood play from Stoian out wide sees the Romanian break free and cross towards the near post, but his low pass it cut out and smashed to safety by Albiol. We will have two additional minutes.
45+2 minNapoli end the half on top as Insigne tries his luck from range, hitting a drive from distance with venom but failing to direct the strike on target.
5.51pmWell that was just what the doctor ordered for Napoli, cruising into a two-goal advantage against Genoa without really having to leave second gear. Pandev's double has so far vindicated Benitez's decision to make wholesale changes, with Genoa unable to compete in midfield so far this afternoon.
5.54pmWith the Champions League in mind Benitez has given Pandev, Zapata and Callejon the chance to shine this afternoon, an opportunity they have so far taken. Zapata has been quiet in fairness but lacked service, while Higuain and Insigne have dropped into space and caused consistent problems for an overworked Genoa midfield.
5.57pmGenoa boss Liverani made a tactical change just before the break, switching to 4-4-2 in an attempt to stop Napoli playing out of defence under little pressure. Gilardino has lacked support with a back-three horribly exposed during the first period. The hosts need the switch in systems to change their fortunes, but did end the half more positively.
6.00pmBENCH WATCH! It will be interesting to see if Benitez leaves some of his established regulars in reserve today, especially if Genoa respond strongly after the break. The likes of Higuain, Hamsik and Dzemaili are on the bench for the Azzurri, while Genoa on Argentine duo Santana or Centurion.
6.03pmBoth sides are back out in Genoa, with Liverani out early and looking in a stern mood. Can his words of his wisdom prompt any kind of response from the hosts, or are Napoli destined to reclaim top spot in Serie A? We will find out shortly!
46 minSUBSTITUTIONS: As Genoa get the second half underway there is just time to note a change from both sides at the back. Genoa have swapped Antonini for Santana, while Napoli club captain Cannavaro is on for Albiol in central defence.
48 minSantana wastes no time getting involved as he smashes into a 50/50 with Behrami, conceding an early free kick. A stoppage is then required as Kucka lands awkwardly in an aerial duel with Behrami, requiring treatment on his knee.
50 minNapoli are handed a free kick around 30 yards from goal as Matuzalem is penalised for a sliding challenge on Zapata. Callejon opts to strike at goal and sends a curling shot towards the far post, which is gathered cleanly by Perin.
53 minKucka is back on the pitch and nearly marks that return with a goal, as his volley flies over the crossbar. The midfielder had a good sight of the target there as the ball sat up invitingly, but failed to judge his effort properly.
56 minBehrami concedes a cheap free kick but once again Genoa are unable to make the most of a set-piece opportunity as Mesto heads away. That clearance quickly sets Insigne free on the break, but the referee frustrates Napoli by pulling play back for a foul on Mesto in the box.
59 minGenoa are pressing higher up the pitch in an attempt to respond, as Metuzalem switches to Santana. His switch to Stoian catches the Roamian off-guard though, allowing Napoli to break through Zapata. Napoli eventually cross in search of Callejon, with the ball taking a deflection as it goes through fortunately to Perin.
61 minSUBSTITUTION: Napoli make a change in attack as Zapata's rather inauspicious full debut ends after an hour. Gonzalo Higuain takes his place, giving the visitors a new and in-form target to search for in the final third.
63 minSUBSTITUTION: Genoa respond to Higuain's arrival by making their final change of the match. Matuzalem has been largely ineffective and comes off early to be replaced by Greek midfielder Giannis Fetfatzidis.
65 minGenoa create their best chance of the match by quite some distance as Santana's inviting cross is met by Gilardino. The veteran's effort is heading towards goal but moves wide of the target late, much to the relief of Reina, who was unmoved.
67 minYELLOW CARD! Kucka becomes the latest player cautioned after bundling Inler to the ground in an aerial duel. There was some intent there from the Genoa midfielder, who must now be on guard for the rest of the match.
70 minGilardino is caught offside by fractions in a contentious call as he races onto a clever pass inside. Cannavaro had lost his marker but gets the benefit of the doubt from the linesman, much to Liverani's annoyance on the touchline.
72 minNapoli win a corner kick as Callejon's strike takes two deflections before going out on the far side. Insigne's corner ias a poor one though, headed clear with ease at the near post as Genoa regain possession.
74 minBenitez looks bemused as Inler smashes a long diagonal straight out of play, not in keeping with how Napoli have approached this match. Santana wants to take the throw-in quickly but is stopped by the official, a decision Liverani decides to query in an angry exchange with the fourth official.
77 minHiguain menaces for the first time in the final third, controlling a long searching from Insigne with minimum fuss. The Argentine turns inside De Maio but just as looks to pull the trigger the defender recovers, sliding in to clear with a last-ditch tackle.
79 minFetfatzidis swaps passes with Calaio as the Genoa continue to push for a response, but his effort is blocked clear. Pandev picks up the pieces and drives forward with options to his right. The forward cuts inside and plays it safe by finding Insige with a reverse pass, with the youngster quickly muscled off the ball by Kucka.
82 minSUBSTITUTION: Benitez makes a conservative final change to protect what he has, with two-goal hero Pandev replaced by Blerim Dzemaili. Genoa get forward when play resumes and win a corner through Stoian, with Calaio heading just wide of the near post when the cross comes in.
85 minCalaio is just denied by a sliding block from Britos as he shoots from close range. After pushing without any success in the second half Genoa are finally taking up dangerous positions, but another awful corner from Stoian slows down momentum.
88 minYELLOW CARD! Higuain takes his protests too far after being hauled over by Portanova, with the referee warning him before eventually issuing a caution. A needless booking for the Argentine striker, especially with his side holding on comfortably.
90+1 minGenoa have three additional minutes to fight back as Stoian finds Gilardino in the penalty area, but his low strike lacks power and is held by Reina.
90+3 minInler twice wins the ball up against De Maio and eventually find Higuai, who hits with the outside of his foot. His effort has plenty of power but lacks direction, flying high and wide of the near post. That should just about do it in Genoa.
6.55pmIn the end a convincing win for Napoli, who go top of Serie A for at least 24 hours thanks to a brace from Goran Pandev. Benitez made plenty of changes but his reserves were up to the task, making it five wins from six in the league. What a start from the Azzurri!
6.58pmThat just about does it for Sports Mole's coverage from the Luigi Ferraris, as Napoli march on in Serie A. Thanks for your time and be sure to stay tuned all weekend for comprehensive coverage of all the big games across the continent. Goodnight!