Napoli’s spluttering Serie A title defence suffered another early season setback after they were held to a 2-2 draw at battling Genoa.
It could have been much worse for Rudi Garcia’s Italian champions, who needed stunning late finishes from second-half substitutes Giacomo Raspadori (76′) and Matteo Politano (84′) to rescue a point against their committed hosts.
With over 33,000 fans inside the bouncing Luigi Ferraris on Saturday night, it was the home side who moved ahead in a frantic affair when Mattia Bani headed into the net from a Koni De Winter flick-on on 40 minutes.
Mateo Retegui latched onto Kevin Strootman’s speculative ball into the area on 56 minutes to add the second with the visitors again found wanting in defence.
After their 2-1 home loss to Lazio before the international break, Napoli showed their mettle to avoid a second straight defeat with Raspadori’s unstoppable drive and superb Politano volley earning a draw.
Fifth-placed Napoli – who are five points behind leaders Inter after only four league matches – will hope for a significant improvement when they begin their UEFA Champions League campaign at Portuguese side Braga on Wednesday evening.
TALKING POINT: Napoli show champion quality to earn a draw
For about 76 minutes, it would be fair to say Napoli looked like a pale imitation of the side that carried off the title last season.
They seemed to lack a creative spark, energy or a real plan to unlock a sturdy Genoa defence, but the two pieces of quality that lifted them out of a hole reminded everyone why they ended their 33-year wait for the club’s third Scudetto in May.
Giacomo Raspadori’s instinctive early hit from distance was a pure strike of genuine beauty, while the equaliser from fellow substitute Matteo Politano on the volley was technically perfect when it would have been easy to lift it over the bar.
For the rest of the evening, Rudi Garcia’s side enjoyed plenty of possession without carrying any menace. Yet in avoiding a second straight defeat, who knows how significant this point might be?
Napoli fans will hope it leads to a fresh start for their side after stagnating badly for long periods in the Genoese drizzle.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Mattia Bani (Genoa)
Scored his side’s opening goal and produced a stout performance in defence to repel the visitors, who needed two sublime finishes to deny Bani and his colleagues a famous victory over the defending champions.
Genoa: Josep Martínez 7, Radu Dragusin 7, Mattia Bani 8, Aarón Martín 7, Koni De Winter 8, Kevin Strootman 7, Milan Badelj 7, Morten Frendrup 7, Stefano Sabelli 7, Mateo Retegui 7, Albert Gudmundsson 7 Subs: Johan Vásquez 6, Morten Thorsby 6, Ruslan Malinovskyi 6
Napoli: Alex Meret 7, Juan Jesus 7, Leo Ostigard 6, Mário Rui 7, Giovanni Di Lorenzo 7, Stanislav Lobotka 7, Piotr Zielinski 7, André-Frank Zambo Anguissa 6, Victor Osimhen 6, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia 6, Eljif Elmas 6 Subs: Mathías Olivera 6, Jens Cajuste 6, Giacomo Raspadori 8, Alessio Zerbin 7, Matteo Politano 8
40′ GOAL FOR GENOA! Would you believe this! Napoli fail to cope with the Albert Gudmundsson corner and Bani arrives at the back post to head home from the Koni De Winter flick on. A quick VAR check confirms the goal is good. The home side lead 1-0.
56′ GOAL FOR GENOA! A second for the home side and now Napoli are in deep, deep trouble. Mateo Retegui turns to thump a shot into the corner of the net after the loose ball broke to him. Fabulous finish inside the area and a 2-0 lead for Genoa. Kevin Strootman with the ball into the box.
67′ SO CLOSE TO ONE BACK Victor Osimhen battles for a loose ball before nudging a shot towards goal under Martinez, but couldn’t get any pace on the finish and Genoa have bodies back to clear the threat. Better from Napoli.
76′ GOAL FOR NAPOLI! A lifeline for the visitors as Giacomo Raspadori fires a rasping shot into the net from distance. What a finish from the substitute. Napoli back in the ball game.
84′ GOAL FOR NAPOLI! The visiting side level it up with a stunning finish as Matteo Politano races onto the Piotr Zielinski ball to drill the ball into the net. It is 2-2. What a match! What a comeback from Napoli.
- Napoli have enjoyed their most Serie A victories away from home at the Luigi Ferraris since their return to the top flight in 2007 with 18 wins and eight defeats, but they were forced to settle for a fifth draw this time at the traditional home of Genoa and Sampdoria.