Napoli vs. AS Roma: Final score 1-0; Napoli inches closer to Roma in battle for 2nd

Giuseppe Bellini

Napoli defeated Roma in an quiet game in which neither team really showed enough to deserve points

José Callejón netted the winning goal in a match that saw saw Napoli close the gap to Roma in the battle for second place; a strike that surely kills the hope of even the most optimistic Roma fans still dreaming of Scudetto: Juventus are now 14 points clear of the giallorossi.

Rudi Garcia surprised most fans by leaving Mattia Destro on the bench and playing without a classic center forward. Gervinho was used as a false nine, with Michael Bastos and Alessandro Florenzi on the wings. Meanwhile, Rafa Benítez lost both Jorginho and Valon Behrami to injuries shortly before the start of the match. The result was an uneventful first half with little more than a few great long distance shots. If there wasn't for the unfortunate injury to Kevin Strootman, we could safely say that nothing happened.

The tempo was a bit higher in the second half. Napoli had two great chances in the 53rd minute, when Callejon failed to transform one on one with Morgan De Sanctis into a goal, and then, a few seconds later, Higuaín blasted over from just few meters away. Roma's best chance was a Maicon long shot from around 20 meters, which deflected off Federico Fernández only for Pepe Reina to pull off a miraculous save.

With time running down, the game seemed destined to end in a goalless draw, but then Faouzi Ghoulam sent in a perfect cross from the left. Roma's young left back, Leandro Romagnoli, left Callejon unmarked and the Spaniard pinged in a great header off the near post, leaving De Sanctis stranded. Garcia finally brought in Destro, but it was too little, too late for the visitors..

Napoli starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Reina; Maggio, Fernandez, Albiol, Ghoulam; Inler, Dzemaili (Henrique 61'); Mertens, Hamsik (Insigne 73'), Callejòn (Pandev 85'); Higuain

Goals: Callejon 81'

Roma starting lineup (4-3-3): De Sanctis; Maicon, Benatia, Castan, Romagnoli (Destro 85'); Pjanic, Nainggolan, Strootman (Taddei 13'); Florenzi (Ljajic 75'), Gervinho, Bastos

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