The match between Sampdoria and Napoli could be characterized as an easy run broken up by moments of having to deal with an annoying spherical object whizzing through the atmosphere. Sampdoria started off flying, going for goal within the first minute. They spent much of the first hour pressuring Napoli with such intensity that the partenopei were forced into making mistakes. But the home side eventually wore themselves out and Napoli capitalized on their mistake, winning on a penalty conversion by Edinson Cavani.
With Samp intent on wearing themselves out, the most interesting thing to happen in the first half was Walter Mazzarri getting himself sent off. Pedro Mba Obiang went in hard on Paolo Cannavaro, a move that could have easily earned him a red card. When referee Paolo Tagliavento showed yellow, the Napoli coach protested furiously, resulting in a walk of shame across the pitch at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
The move was likely carefully orchestrated to fire up his side, but it took until the 67th minute for its effects to really kick in. Napoli sprung forward on their first truly dangerous counter-attack of the match, with Marek Hamšík surging into the box. Daniele Gastaldello clipped the Slovak's heels, bringing him down and earning a straight red card. It was El Matador, of course, who stepped up to the spot, easily converting the penalty for Napoli's only goal.