Oct 18, 2013 at 7.45pm UK at ​Stadio Olimpico
Roma
2-0
Napoli
Pjanic (45', 71' pen.)
Pjanic (74'), Benatia (90')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Pandev (25'), Cannavaro (45'), Inler (74')
Cannavaro (70')

Live Commentary: Roma 2-0 Napoli - as it happened

Live Commentary: Roma 2-0 Napoli - as it happened
© AFP
Sports Mole's text commentary of Roma's eighth successive Serie A victory, a 2-0 success over previously unbeaten Napoli.

Serie A resumed this evening with a clash of the titans at the Stadio Olimpico, with 100% starters Roma hosting unbeaten Napoli.

The visitors started brightly and missed gilt-edged chances through Goran Pandev and Lorenzo Insigne, with Roma punishing wasteful finishing in ruthless fashion.

Miralem Pjanic was the star of the show, scoring twice with a free kick and penalty either side of half time, with Napoli also reduced to 10 men as Paolo Cannavaro conceded the spot kick.

Look back on another efficient performance from Rudi Garcia's men to keep them top of the table with Sports Mole's minute-by-minute commentary below.


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7.16pmEvening Calcio fans. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for what promises to be a special start to a packed weekend of Serie A action, with first facing second as Roma host Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico.

7.18pmRoma have taken pretty much everyone by surprise with a breathtaking start to the campaign, winning all seven Serie A matches in a seamless transition under new coach Rudi Garcia. The Frenchman has brought continuity and stability to a traditionally volatile Giallorossi, but now faces a fight to manage expectations at the Olimpico.

7.20pmGarcia's bright start is all the more remarkable given Roma's transfer activity this summer, with Erik Lamela, Marquinhos and Pablo Osvaldo all sold. Garcia had money to spend and has brought in players he trusts on big wages, with the likes of Gervinho and Kevin Strootman enjoying life in Serie A.

7.23pmNapoli meanwhile have also adjusted with minimum fuss to a new coach taking over during the close-season, with Rafael Benitez quickly becoming a firm favourite at the San Paolo. Gonzalo Higuain has hit the ground running, and with a strong supporting cast including Lorenzo Higuain and Marek Hamsik the Azzurri look a quality side despite losing Edinson Cavani.

7.26pmA win for Napoli tonight would take them top of Serie A, but they face an uphill struggle to become the first side to take points from Roma this season. Garcia's men have looked nothing short of sensational this season, with a mix of creative impetus, pace and confidence across the pitch.

7.28pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS! We have just received word on tonight's starting XIs and a huge blow for Napoli, with Gonzalo Higuain not fit to start, leaving Goran Pandev to lead the line. A full look at both lineups will follow in just a few moments.

7.30pmNAPOLI: Reina; Maggio, Albiol, Britos, Mesto; Inler, Behrami; Callejon, Hamsik, Insigne; Pandev

7.32pmROMA: De Sanctis; Maicon, Benatia, Castan, Dodò; Pjanic, De Rossi, Strootman; Florenzi, Totti, Gervinho

7.34pmBenitez's team selection definitely looks cautious, with Higuain not risked after carrying a thigh problem into tonight's match. Pandev will be supported by Insigne and Jose Callejon, with Hamsik playing just behind in a free role.

7.36pmNapoli stalwart Christian Maggio is also back tonight after a month out with a knee injury, with his return timely after Juan Camilo Zuniga underwent surgery on a similar problem yesterday. Pablo Armero is missing on the other flank, with Giandomenico Mesto providing cover at full-back.

7.38pmRoma meanwhile have also made changes at full-back, with Brazilian duo Maicon and Dodo back in the starting XI. Alessandro Florenzi and Gervinho continue in attack, supporting talisman and skipper Francesco Totti.

7.40pmA quick word on the circumstances which brought about a Friday night match in Serie A, which is a rare occurrence indeed. Italian authorities decided to put the match back 24 hours with a protest match planned in Rome tomorrow over rail construction, with police resources diverted to focus on keeping the peace this evening. The Olimpico looks about 3/4's full and we are just under five minutes from kickoff, this should be one to savour.

7.43pmPREDICTION! To borrow a famous boxing phrase somebody's 0 has to go this evening, unless we get a draw of course which would keep both teams unbeaten. I think Gervinho's pace could be crucial tonight, who would have thought I'd be saying that about the former Arsenal man six months ago. With Higuain out I'll go for Roma to get their eighth successive league win by a slender 2-1 scoreline.

7.45pmHere come the two teams to a quite magnificent atmosphere at the Olimpico, with the Giallorossi clearly enjoying their best ever start in Serie A. Napoli promise to provide a stern test though, with this the kind of big match Benitez must surely relish.

0 minTime to get this clash of the titans underway then, with first against second in Serie A kicking off a return to domestic action on the continent. Roma finally take the kickoff after mist from a host of pre-match flares subsides, shooting from right to left.

2 minPjanic just nicks the ball off Behrami but already central midfield looks particularly congested, with Hamsik confronted by a wall of Roma players as he looks to advance upfield.

4 minGervinho beats Mesto down the line with an early sign of his current form, before Castan hacks Pandev to the ground with a fierce early challenge that may well set the tone for this clash.

6 minPjanic has a strike deflected clear by Britos as Roma threaten in the final third after a break down the left by Britos, with the shot bouncing into the ground before hitting the defender full in the chest.

8 minNapoli look to counter as Insigne comes within inches of picking out Callejon with a brilliant diagonal pass, which just evades the Spaniard after taking an unkind bounce of what looks a slippery surface. Plenty of attacking intent early on, which is no surprise given a fine start to the season from both teams.

10 minDe Sanctis gets his first touch against his former club as he passes out of the back to Benatia, starting a Roma move which sees Pjanic just fail to pick out Florenzi. Quite a few spectators have just turned away from the match for a glimpse of Diego Maradona, who is a guest of Roma's president at the Olimpico this evening.

13 minInsigne's flick inside towards Pandev is just cut out by Castan, with long diagonal passes on the counter a prominent feature of Napoli's early play as Inler miscontrols outside the penalty area.

15 minAlbiol puts in an important block to stop Gervinho exchanging neat passes with De Rossi out wide. That left flank looks to be Roma's most promising outlet tonight, if they provide the Ivorian with service to run at Mesto with pace.

17 minMaicon's hopeful cross towards the back post evades Gervinho, who sprinted clear towards the back post but just looked offside. When play resumes Maggio clearly blocks off Dodo with a cynical challenge and is perhaps fortunate to escape an early caution.

19 minCHANCES! Roma should really be ahead after wasting two openings in the space of a minute. First De Rossi met Maicon's corner for a free header at goal, but could only aim a tame effort straight at Reina. The hosts are then quick to win back possession as Pjanic plays in Gervinho, but from a tight angle the Ivorian skews his strike wide of the near post.

21 minRoma settle in possession after a bizarre call from the referee eventually results in a drop-ball, with Dodo involved again soon after, with Callejon penalised for a high foot.

24 minGervinho switches wings to drive Roma forward once more, passing inside for Pjanic to smash over from 30 yards. Despite the wayward effort Reina is furious with the Napoli defenders, who failed to close down the Bosnian playmaker.

27 minYELLOW CARD! Totti gets a chance to cross with a free kick around 30 yards from goal but his delivery is poor, allowing Reina to claim and quickly smash upfield. Soon after Roma want a free kick as Maicon tangles with Mesto, with Pandev then cautioned soon after for leading with his arm in a challenge on Pjanic. Tempers flaring for the first time there.

29 minDodo roams forward but his positive burst is brought to an end by a strong challenge from Britos, with the referee quickly telling the Brazilian to get up after frankly ridiculous penalty appeals.

31 minMore like it from Napoli as Maggio breaks clear on the right to whip a cross towards the near post, but De Rossi reads the danger to clear under pressure from Pandev. The visitors have offered little in the final third so far, leaving De Sanctis as a spectator against his former club.

33 minCastan is very fortunate to escape without punishment after catching Callejon in an aerial challenge. As play continues Totti clears under pressure from Inler but looks in discomfort, walking to the touchline for treatment on what looks to be a hamstring problem.

35 minSUBSTITUTION: Totti is unable to continue and hobbles down the tunnel, with Marco Borriello swiftly brought on in his place. That's both sides without their talisman in attack now, levelling the playing field somewhat.

37 minOFF THE LINE! Pandev has just somehow failed to break the deadlock with the goal at his mercy. The forward was put clean through after a swift Napoli counter, but after taking his time saw his effort parried by De Sanctis. The strike still looked destined to trickle over the line, but a fantastic covering run from De Rossi sees the midfielder slide in and clear off the line. Will the Azzurri rue that miss?

40 minThe referee is allowing play to largely flow this evening as the challenges come in thick and fast. Napoli are clearly trying to exploit Dodo's natural tendency to get forward on the left flank, with Roma just losing some of their early momentum following Totti's departure.

42 minWIDE! Roma come close thanks to Borriello's first involvement since coming on, beating Britos in the air to find Florenzi just outside the box. The winger takes a touch before driving towards the far corner, with his strike going through Albiol's legs before flying a few yards wide.

44 minNapoli have an injury problem of their own to contend with after Britos took a heavy fall in that challenge with Borrielo. The defender is helped to the touchline but needs further treatment, with Behrami providing temporary cover in the meantime.

45 min+1SUBSTITUTION: Roma use their man advantage to create another strike at goal, with Strootman given space to flash over from 25 yards. Britos is unable to continue, which means that club captain Cannavaro comes into deputise in central defence.

45 min+2OFF THE POST! Napoli have just spurned another brilliant opening, with Insigne this time the guilty man. His clever run beyond Maicon caught the Roma defence flat-footed from Hamsik's switch inside, but with the goal at his mercy Insigne side-footed off the near post from close range.

45 min+3YELLOW CARD! Cannavaro has been on the pitch for less than two minutes but gets cautioned nonetheless after smashing into Gervinho with a cynical challenge. That foul give Roma a free kick around 25 yards from goal.

45 min+3GOAL! Roma 1-0 Napoli (Pjanic)

45 min+4Pjanic has given Roma the lead with a wonderful free kick, beating Reina with an effort that curled despairingly away from the Spaniard into the top corner.

8.38pmHALF-TIME Roma 1-0 Napoli

8.41pmWell what a way to finish the first half, with Napoli punished for those missed chances in some style by Pjanic. The midfielder's free kick was perfectly placed, adding gloss to memorable week which saw him help Bosnia reach their first ever World Cup finals.

8.43pmBenitez nearly made it to the break with parity intact, but even that scoreline may have left the Napoli boss feeling hard done by. Roma have controlled possession but been caught on the counter twice, with Pandev and Insige both failing to convert opportunities that they really had to take.

8.45pmThat bit of luck you need at the top level is clearly with Roma right now, with Pjanic freed up to convert that free kick by Totti's untimely departure through injury. Conceding in that manner will not help Paolo Cannavaro's fight for a regular first-team place, with the club captain committing the foul on Gervinho which led to that opener.

8.48pmBENCH WATCH! With Napoli trailing you have to assume that we will see Higuain before too long, with the Argentine not at full fitness and therefore left out of starting XI. Roma have already used Borriello but also have Adem Ljajic waiting in the wings, while Michael Bradley is back on the bench after returning from injury.

8.51pmIn the large majority of their games this season Roma have come on stronger in the second half, so it will be interesting to see how they adapt to being ahead earlier tonight. Napoli meanwhile will be forced to chase the game, with more required from a largely quiet Hamsik.

45 minNo sign of Higuain entering the fray just yet as Napoli get the second half underway!

47 minNapoli are first to show purpose in the second half, with Insigne driving inside only to see his through ball to Pandev shut down by De Rossi. Roma have to careful down the flanks, with Dodo and Maicon both caught out of position tonight on more than one occasion.

50 minInler flashes wide for Napoli as the visitors continue to threaten, this could be a long 45 minutes for the hosts if they fail to retain possession more effectively.

53 minGervinho looked certain to be substituted after pulling up with what appeared to be a muscle strain, with Adem Ljajic stripped and ready to take his place. The Ivorian signalled to the bench but after hobbling towards the touchline decides he wants to continue, with the change cancelled.

56 minSUBSTITUTION: Finally Gervinho leaves the field for Ljajic, after limping around aimlessly for over a minutes. The Ivorian is clearly carrying a thigh problem but Roma have a worthy replacement in Ljajic, who has been an effective impact substitute so far this season.

59 minDe Rossi comes within inches of meeting a brilliant drilled corner, just failing to make proper contract with an attempted diving header just yards off the floor. Napoli come roaring at the back at the other end through Pandev, who has a cross into the six-yard box hooked away by Benatia.

62 minHamsik comes close for Napoli as he glides just inside the area, smashing a strike which just nicked the outside of the crossbar. Roma are sitting too deep and inviting pressure now.

65 minRoma's vocal home support are attempting to rally their side, while Higuain continues to warm up. Surely the Argentine striker's arrival is imminent?

67 minBehrami is extremely fortunate to escape a caution after hauling Pjanic to the ground with a challenge that smacked of frustration. Roma decide to retain possession from the free kick, but Strootman's attempted switch to Maicon flies out for goal kick.

69 minRED CARD! Roma have been awarded a penalty after Cannavaro shoved over Borriello in the box, with the defender shown a second yellow card and his marching orders as a result.

71 minGOAL! Roma 2-0 Napoli (Pjanic)

71 minPjanic steps up to confidently convert the spot kick, smashing high into the top corner for his second of the night. Reina has a terrific record of saving penalties but had no chance there, sent the wrong way by the brilliant Bosnian. That could well be game set and match.

74 minSUBSTITUTION: Two bookings in quick succession as Inler and Pjanic are both cautioned for fouls in central midfield. Roma suddenly look full of confidence as De Rossi leads another charge, the stand-in skipper has been immense tonight!

77 minDe Rossi in involved again as he blocks a shot from distance, with Callejon's shot on the follow-up caught comfortably by De Sanctis.

80 minSUBSTITUTION: Garcia decides that Roma need fresh legs to close this match out, with Florenzi replaced by the pacy option of Brazilian youngster Marquinho.

82 minSUBSTITUTION: With Inler tiring Napoli decide to counter that change with a swap of their own in midfield, with Dzemaili replacing his Swiss teammate.

85 minStootman smashes over as Roma take the sting out of this game late on, with De Rossi just delaying a long pass soon after as Ljajic is caught offside. An evening of frustration for Napoli.

88 minNapoli win a pair of late corners as they look to force a grandstand finish, but Insigne decides to take short and allows Roma to get defenders over to cover.

90 min+1De Rossi makes another telling contribution, sensing danger to rob possession in midfield and find Dodo out wide. The move leads to Pjanic finding Ljajic, but the forward's effort from 12 yards is tame and trickles through to Reina slowly.

90 min+3YELLOW CARD! Benatia picks up a late caution after bringing down Callejon from 25 yards. That foul gives Napoli the chance to get on the scoresheet late on, but Insigne's effort from the free kick floats through to a grateful De Sanctis without venom.

9.43pmFULL-TIME Roma 2-0 Napoli

9.46pmAll over at the Olimpico and Roma's incredible start to the season goes on, with a Pjanic brace enough to make it eight wins in a row for the Giallorossi. A simply unthinkable achievement at the start of the campaign!

9.49pmNapoli certainly had their chances but were punished ruthlessly for failing to take them. Roma lost Totti early on but went on to win the game comfortably, with Pjanic the hero after successfully converting both a penalty and free kick.

9.52pmWell that just about does it for Sports Mole's coverage from the Olimpico. Thanks for your company and be sure to check in all weekend for comprehensive coverage of all the big matches from across the continent.

Roma's Adem Ljajic is congratulated by team mates after scoring his team's third goal against Hellas Verona on September 1, 2013
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19SPALSPAL8125714-75
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