Napoli continued their pursuit of high flying Juventus in questionable style, as they dismissed Sassuolo 2-0 at the San Paolo Stadium.
On the back off a disheartening 3-1 defeat to Serie A leaders Juventus, it was crucial the Partenopei transformed their European winning form to domestic matters, after triumphing over Liverpool in the Champions League.
Carlo Ancelotti could not have dreamed of a better start, as Napoli's high pressing game plan proved devilishly effective. The first goal took all of two minutes, as Adam Ounas latched onto Manuel Locatelli's suspect defending to fire home a sumptuous half volley into the roof of the net.
What a goal by Adam Ounas!! Ahhh love this guy— C'est la vie (@MoeTweetzz) October 7, 2018
The first 25 minutes of the second half was largely uneventful, despite a spell of Sassuolo resurgence which saw David Ospina make a string of excellent saves, Napoli and Lorenzo Insigne quickly dismissed any hope of a comeback.
Insgine, cutting inside, delightfully fired a curling effort into the top corner - his seventh of the season - leaving the Partenopei to secure all three points and a fourth clean-sheet in five matches.
Sassuolo finished the match with ten men, as Rogerio recklessly lashed out at Jose Callejon to see red, capping off a thoroughly frustrating evening for the visitors.
Read our breakdown of the game below.
Key Talking Points
Napoli began the game in breathtaking fashion. Opening the scoring in the first two minutes, largely due to their high intensity press, the Partenopei looked to have shaken the life out of Sassuolo.
Searching for the second, Napoli continued to press as a sleepy Sassuolo struggled to deal with the Parenopei's high intensity play. Dries Mertens fluffed his lines on the twelfth, as a glorious chance went begging after his miss-hit outside of the boot shot flew wide of Sassuolo's gaping goal.
Despite Sassuolo regaining a foothold in the game, Napoli knew when to turn the style on, as Insigne put any doubt of a resurgence to bed with a fabulous curling effort to send the Partenopei fans into raptures.
Despite resting a number of star players, Napoli still possessed the quality to put this game to bed in the first. Undoubtedly a worrying thought, as Ancelotti witnessed his side squander chance after chance in the opening 45, subsequently allowing an ever growing Sassuolo to regain a foothold in the game.
Despite sustained pressure, the introduction of Insigne buried any hope of a Sassuolo comeback, ultimately sparing the blushes as his curling effort found the top corner. Although, on another day Napoli could've been punished, and Ancelotti will know they cannot be so wasteful again.
Player Ratings: Ospina (9)*, Malcuit (6), Koulibaly (7), Albiol (7), Hysaj (6), Rog (6), Diawara (6), Zielinski (7), Verdi (7), Mertens (5), Ounas (8)
Substitutes: Insigne (8), Allan (7), Callejon (6)
Goalkeepers commonly go under the radar, but David Ospina more than deserves any plaudits coming his way. Despite Ounas and Insgine netting for the Partenopei, it certainly wouldn't be controversial to say that Ospina won this game for Napoli.
A string of fine saves thoroughly frustrated the Sassuolo front men, as Ospina did his utmost best to keep Kevin-Prince Boateng and co. at bay throughout the 90 minutes.
Ospina again. Three quality saves now, Napoli lead 1-0— James Jukes (@JamesJukes2) October 7, 2018
A star performance from the on-loan Arsenal man, Ospina will go home oozing confidence after this one.
On the whole, Dries Mertens will be disappointed with his contribution. Although he showed glimpses of his undoubted quality, the Belgian was largely wasteful in front of goal and on another day could've comfortably scored a hat-trick.
With two weeks to stew on his missed chances, lets hope Mertens can bag a couple for De Rode Duivels as they face the Netherlands on Tuesday.
Another chance for Napoli Mertens gets his shooting wrong screeed it wide sass defence looking very shaky atm— john_NUFC42 (@john_nufc42) October 7, 2018