Higuain, Callejon steer Napoli to emotional victory against Roma
Gonzalo Higuain scored again to help Napoli beat title hopeful Roma 2-0 amid high tension at the Stadio San Paolo on Saturday.
Higuain, who hadn’t scored in the opening seven rounds, netted his fifth goal in six days as Napoli got off to a blistering start.
The Argentine turned provider to help Jose Callejon seal the result late on.
Callejon and Marek Hamsik also hit the crossbar in an entertaining first half for Napoli.
This was a high-risk match as it was the first time the two teams had met since clashes that led to a fan’s death from a shooting before the Italian Cup final in May.
Napoli fan Ciro Esposito died 50 days after he was allegedly shot by a Roma fan. An investigation over the shooting is ongoing.
Roma fans were barred from traveling to Naples for the game but there were still concerns of reprisal attacks and there were tight security measures put in place.
Roma went into the match on a high after moving level with Juventus at the top of the table, while Napoli coach Rafa Benitez was still under pressure after mixed results.
But it was Napoli that had the better start and could have been 3-0 up inside the opening 12 minutes.
Lorenzo Insigne’s effort was deflected and Higuain acrobatically volleyed it in with a scissor kick to give Napoli the lead in the third minute.
Inisgne then drilled the ball just wide of the left upright before unleashing a curler which Roma goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis did well to fingertip around the base of his post.
Moments later, Callejon’s fierce strike crashed off the crossbar.
Roma began to get more into the game but didn’t have a sight of goal and it was Napoli again which went closest toward halftime, with Hamsik also hitting the crossbar after De Sanctis had denied Higuain.
Roma came out fighting after the break and Alessandro Florenzi fired wide before forcing Napoli goalkeeper Rafael into a smart save.
However, it was again Napoli which had the best opportunity shortly after the hour mark when Kalidou Koulibaly led a rapid counter attack and set up Callejon, who dinked the ball over De Sanctis only for Radja Nainggolan to sprint back and clear off the line.
Napoli did score a second six minutes from time as a delightful diagonal pass from Higuain allowed Callejon to slot past De Sanctis.