Napoli vs. Livorno: Final score 4-0, Partenopei ease to comfortable win

Valerio Pennicino

Napoli have bounced back from the Champions League loss against Arsenal in midweek with a comfortable league victory over Livorno.

Livorno weren't especially poor, though the newly-promoted Tuscans had nowhere near enough to compete with the firepower of their Neapolitan hosts. Napoli move up to within two points of league leaders Roma with their 4-0 win, while the amaranto stay in mid-table after sinking to their second consecutive defeat.

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Napoli may have come to be less reliant on the counter-attack since Rafael Benítez’s arrival in the summer, though Goran Pandev’s opener inside the opening five minutes resulted from a classic Mazzarri-esque transition. Winger Dries Mertens sprinted towards goal on the break and threaded through the Macedonian striker, who made no mistake with an excellent finish.

Ten minutes later Pandev could’ve added a second after some smart footwork fooled Federico Ceccherini and bought him some room in the box, but Pandev curled the ensuing shot over the bar from close range. Despite Napoli’s advantage, Livorno did well to stay strong and see much of the ball in the opening half. They didn’t look overwhelmed, despite their vulnerability on the counter.

However, they were 2-0 down after 26 minutes, when midfielder Gökhan Inler found the space to unleash a trademark long-range shot. It wasn’t perfectly placed, though the weak hands of Livorno goalkeeper Francesco Bardi allowed the ball to slip though into the back of the net.

Livorno rarely troubled Pepe Reina at all in the first half and their hosts barely stepped out of first gear, though the amaranto’s best opportunity came right on the stroke of halftime. Midfielder Alfred Duncan’s delicate chipped pass was venomously volleyed towards goal by his teammate Innocent Emeghara, though the spectacular effort kissed the post before going wide.

It took less than ten minutes of the second half before Napoli sealed all three points with a third goal. Winger José Callejón had barely anything to do in the first half, though after receiving a short through pass from Pandev in the box he clinically wrong-footed goalkeeper Bardi for 3-0. Callejón went close again a few minutes later, though his shot went narrowly wide at the near post.

Young keeper Bardi had been having a tough afternoon until just past the hour, when the Italy U21 was forced into a fantastic save on Mertens’ free-kick, diving at full-stretch to palm the Dutchman’s excellent effort away. However he was powerless to keep out Marek Hamšík’s effort from inside the area inside the final ten minutes, after initially making a good stop on Lorenzo Insigne on the counter-attack.

Napoli (4-2-3-1): Pepe Reina; Pablo Armero, Miguel Britos, Federico Fernández, Giandomenico Mesto; Valon Behrami, Gökhan Inler; Dries Mertens, Marek Hamšík (Davide Bariti 84'), José Callejón (Lorenzo Insigne 68'); Goran Pandev (Duván Zapata 77').

Goals: Pandev 4', Inler 26', Callejón 54', Hamšík 83'.

Livorno (3-5-2): Francesco Bardi; Federico Ceccherini, Rinaudo, Andrea Coda; Ibrahima Mbaye, Leandro Greco (Cristiano Piccini 53'), Alfred Duncan, Andrea Luci (Luca Siligardi 64'), Pasquale Schiattarella; Paulinho Betanin, Innocent Emeghara (Luca Belingheri 69')

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