A 90th minute equaliser by Dries Mertens has saved a point for Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo, as they drew 1-1 with AS Roma on Sunday night.
The scoreline largely flatters the visitors who played the majority of the game, especially the second half, on the back foot. They managed just two shots on target and 38 percent possession in a game which featured a lot of last-ditch and back to the walls defending.
The Partenopei controlled much of the game and only have themselves to blame for not taking all three points. Roma defended narrowly and deep but Napoli lacked the finishing, and at times the patience, to finish Roma off. Despite having 26 shots on goal, Napoli only managed to direct five on target.
Roma took the lead early during their only real spell of possession in the game. Under made a clever run inside Koulibaly and crossed the ball from the byline.
Dzeko made a run near post attracting Hysaj the right back across which meant that when the ball made it past both of them El Shaarawy was stood all alone six yards out. The Italian winger took it first time and steered it off the left post and beyond Ospina.
How often is Napoli this wasteful with such opportunities? Olsen and fortune keeping Roma in front— Cory Faust (@CoryFaustSr) October 28, 2018
The Giallorossi would then go on to sit deep and try to hold what they had in an attempt to win the Derby de Sole. Just when time was running out and Ancelotti's men were appearing to look desperate, Mertens would act on instinct and find the end of Callejon's mishit shot to equaliser for the home team.
Key Talking Point
It was Mertens' late goal which has saved some Napoli pride. The Belgian scored at a time when you thought Roma were about to get away with all three points.
Napoli had a number of crossing opportunities throughout the night and never hesitated to deliver from wide areas, however they did not get much joy. On this occasion Insigne made a run towards the byline and just helped a ball back in to the area which found Callejon in acres of space. The Spaniard neglected to take a touch and his first time shot was mishit.
The ball would have rolled in to Olsen's hands, however with Mertens being the poacher he is, arrived late and poked it home from two yards out.
Starting XI (4-4-2): Ospina (6); Hysaj (5), Albiol (7), Koulibaly (6), Rui (7); Callejon (8), Allan (6), Hamsik (7), Fabian (7); Milik (5), Insigne (5)
Substitutes: Mertens (8) Malcuit (6), Zielinski (6)
Star Man - Jose Callejon
Callejon was far and away Napoli's best player. He provided quality from the wide areas. The Spanish winger provided a number of 'buffet balls' from the right and all he needed was one of his teammates to help themselves.
He had 19 crosses over the course of the 90 minutes and it felt like one of his teammates were just inches away from them every time. This was particularly evident in the first half, with Milik always appearing to be just short on two or three crosses. Both Callejon and Fabian were afforded space by the narrow Roma defence and they used this well.
Yoh, Napoli are still an absolute joy to watch, the predicted reversion to pragmatism couldn't have been more wrong!— VoiceOfVader (@TheOtisScream) October 28, 2018
It was also Callejon who helped create the equaliser. He navigated himself in to space for Insigne's cross and was able to direct it goal-wards when Mertens arrived late to poke it home.
Worst Player - Lorenzo Insigne
The story of the night was Napoli being very wasteful with the opportunities they created and the small Italian was largely responsible for that. He had a number of good chances but failed to even test Olsen in the Roma goal.
He managed eight shots but not one was on target. Insigne's first, and best, chance came in the 6th minute when Fabian beat two Roma players before cutting it back to Insigne on the penalty spot. A poor first touch led to a delayed shot which was blocked by Manolas.
Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Olsen (8); Santon (6), Manolas (8), Jesus (6), Kolarov (6); De Rossi (7), N'Zonzi (7); Cengiz Under (7), Pellegrini (6), El Shaarawy (7); Dzeko (6)
Substitutes: Cristante (6), Florenzi (5), Fazio (6)
Star Man - Robin Olsen
The was by far the best display in a Roma shirt yet for the Swede. Without him not only would Roma have lost but they would have been on the wrong end of a thrashing. He made a number of great saves and controlled his area well.
Questions have surrounded the 28-year-old goalkeeper since his arrival from Copenhagen this summer, however similar performances like tonight will go a long way to answer them. It was never going to be easy to replace Alisson but after some teething problems, Olsen appears to be improving week on week.
Worst Player - Juan Jesus
It is strange to say that a centre back was a team's weakness player when they defended well for the majority of the game and had to play with their backs to the wall for nearly the full 90 minutes. However in this case Jesus always looked uncomfortable.
The Brazilian was sloppy at times on the ball and looked lost positionally, especially when Napoli moved the ball quickly. He was also late to react to Callejon's shot late on which allowed Mertens to sneak in and score the all-important equaliser.
Napoli now sit six points behind Juventus after ten games a piece. They have the chance to hopefully close the gap when they play Empoli on Friday. Ancelotti's team will be hopeful they can remain in just with the league leaders as they now enter a friendly run of games in Serie A.
As for Roma, they stay in 8th, and remain seven points behind Napoli and three points from the Champions League places. They have another difficult game against Fiorentina on Saturday before looking ahead to their next big game against Inter on December.