Napoli suffered a 3-0 defeat against what now looks to be a potent Sampdoria side at the Marassi on Sunday night.
Carlo Ancelotti's side were dominated by the hosts in the first half and hardly looked the team who ran Juventus close for the Serie A title last season.
Starting out in third place against an 18th-placed Sampdoria, it was expected that the Naples-based outfit would at least put on a decent showing. But instead, they hardly threatened Sampdoria in the first half and found themselves down 2-0 by minute 32, with Gregoire Defrel scoring both times.
The AS Roma loanee broke the deadlock in the 12th minute off of a brilliant counter-attack and then doubled his side's lead 20 minutes later following a touch of genius from Fabio Quaqlieralla in the Napoli box.
An even better touch from the 35-year-old gave Sampdoria a 3-0 lead as he scored with what is likely to be the best back-heeled flick you'll ever see.
Quagliarella may have the best top 10 goals compilation of any striker— MW (@mediocentroEN) September 2, 2018
In the end, Napoli were unable to impact the scoreline as Sampdoria marched on to collect their first points of the new top-flight Italian season in convincing fashion.
Here's our breakdown of the game.
Key Talking Point
Ancelloti's men were quite susceptible to Sampdoria's counter-attacking in the first period and simply could not cope. Defrel benefited from defenders getting sucked into the area with the ball and made good on his first two opportunities.
The manager made two changes to start the second half, throwing on Dries Mertens and Adam Unas for Lorenzo Insigne and Simone Verdi. And the substitutions sparked an immediate change in the tide as Napoli found themselves in the opposition box more often.
Sampdoria's counter, though, was just as potent as it was in the first period and the home side nearly scored the first goal of the half to take the score to 3-0.
Ultimately, Quaglierella's flick did hand Sampdoria that precious third goal. And what a strike it was too!
There was nothing Napoli could have done about the third goal, but their defending in the first half was extremely poor and their failure to cope with the speed of their opposition's counter-attacking cost them dearly.
Starting XI: Ospina (5), Mario Rui (6), Koulibaly(6.5), Albiol, Hysaj (6), Zielinski (7), Diawara (6), Allan (7), Insigne (5), Milik (5), Verdi (5).
Substitutes: Ounas (6.5), Mertens (7) Rog (6).
STAR MAN - Allan
Allan was undoubtedly the man for I Partenopei, even though they really played poorly. The Brazilian midfielder has been immense so far this season and looks to be well on his way to having a superb campaign for his side.
The 27-year-old's passing was indeed impressive as he worked balls to the attackers when handed opportunities and his creativity was on full display.
Tell a lie, Allan has been the exception, an absolute beast— Darren Insigne (@SSCNapoliCurvaA) September 2, 2018
Allan’s level lately has been insane. Amazing overall progression. Napoli’s most creative midfielder.— EBL (@EBL2017) September 2, 2018
Napoli were unable to stage a comeback this time around after having done so against both Lazio and AC Milan in their opening fixtures, but Allan looked their best player as they struggled to contain an explosive Sampdoria side.
WORST PLAYER - Elseid Hysaj
The 24-year-old is usually a dependable defender, yet his reading of the game was questionable as he chose to mark the wrong man for both of I Blucerchiati's first-half goals.
Thoughts on the first half -— Eric Passariello (@EricPass75) September 2, 2018
-Verdi looked a bit nervous and unsure at the start
-Poor decision making by Hysaj on both goals
-Napoli still struggling to hold a high line
-After going down 2-0 they got sloppy. Need to settle down and play their game. #SampdoriaNapoli
Hysaj was fooled by the man on the ball on both occasions as Defrel was left open long enough to get his shots off. Perhaps many defenders would have done the same in his place, yet it's hardly something you'd imagine him using to make a case for himself.
Ancelotti has quite the long season ahead and will have to return to the drawing board as we head into the international break. His side haven't been convincing at all this season, but six points from three games isn't all that bad.
The transition from Maurizio Sarri's style to their current way of playing has been difficult for Napol. However, they have three manageable fixtures left to play before facing Juventus on September 30, with Fiorentina, Torino and Parma up next in the league.