Serie A - Napoli close the gap on Roma with home win

Serie A, Stadio San Paolo - Napoli 1 (Callejon 81) Roma 0

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Napoli's Jose Maria Callejon (L) celebrates with his teammate Lorenzo Insigne after scoring against AS Roma during their Serie A soccer match at San Paolo stadium in Naples, March 9, 2014. (Reuters)

Jose Callejon scored the only goal of the game as third-placed Napoli beat second-placed Roma in the Derby del Sole at the Stadio San Paolo.

The Spanish winger headed Faouzi Ghoulam’s cross from the right past Roma goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis at the far post as Napoli inflicted only the second league defeat of the season on the Giallorossi.

Rafa Benitez’s side now lie just three points behind Roma in the second automatic Champions League spot, although Rudi Garcia’s side have a game in hand.

Roma were the better side in the first half, and Napoli were indebted to goalkeeper Peper Reina for a sharp save to deny Gervinho on 37 minutes.

Napoli seemed revitalised by the break, and Gonzalo Higuain and Dries Mertens both went close before the Roma defence was finally breached for the first time in the league for over eight hours by Callejon’s late winner.

KEY MOMENTS

7’- STROOTMAN HURT: Strootman is down with an injury after a tackle with Dzemaili. Don't forget he injured his knee this week already when on international duty with the Netherlands.

9’- HE'S HURT: Strootman is down again - he collapsed even though there was no-one around him. It looks like Roma coach Rudi Garcia will have to make a change here.

18’ – CHANCE: Roma break quickly and Bastos' cross from the right is controlled by Gervinho, but the Ivorian snatches at his shot and pulls it wide of Reina's goal.

22’ – CHANCE: Nainggolan shoots a volley straight at Reina after the ball dropped to the Belgian on the edge of the box following a Federico Fernandez tackle.

24’- OFFSIDE: Maggio trips Romagnoli and wins the free-kick. Florenzi's free-kick is perfect and backheaded into the goal by Benatia, but from an offside position

37’ – CHANCE: Chance of the game so far. Pjanic puts in Gervinho down the left channel. The Ivorian checks back past Fernandez and onto his right foot to shoot but Reina is quickly out to block.

41’ – CHANCE: Gervinho lays the ball back to Bastos, whose left-footed effort is awkwardly tipped over by Reina. Napoli then clear Florenzi's corner.

52' – CHANCE: Dzemaili robs the ball off Pjanic in midfield and puts in Callejon, but De Sanctis makes the block.

53' – OFF THE BAR: Napoli keep the ball alive down the right, and Mertens pulls the ball back into the centre but Higuain's sharp half-volley clips the top of the crossbar.

58’' – SAVE: Reina makes a great save to stop a Maicon effort that clips Inler and heads for his near post. The Spaniard had to change direction midsave to stop that.

63’ – SAVE: Mertens acrobatically backheels a pass back to Callejon, but the Napoli wide player is unable to control his effort from the edge of the area and De Sanctis is able to save.

74' – CLOSE: Maicon bends a cross with the outside of his boot from the right, but Florenzi is unable to get a proper connection on the ball.

81’ - GOAL: Callejon head home at the far post to make it Napoli 1-0 Roma from a superb cross to the far post from Faouzi Ghoulam.

KEY STATS

Jose Callejon’s header is only the 12th goal Roma have conceded this season in 26 games.

TALKING POINT

Did Garcia take an unnecessary risk? Roma coach Rudi Garcia selected Kevin Strootman in midfield even though the Dutchman limped out of the Netherlands’ international friendly in midweek. He lasted only nine minutes at the Stadio San Paolo, and his replacement Rodrigo Taddei was ineffective.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Federico Fernandez (Napoli): The Argentine central defender superbly marshalled Roma striker Gervinho all evening, preventing the Ivorian from running into the channels between the Napoli back four and goalkeeper Pepe Reina. His tackling was as good as his positional play, and was the main reason why Roma drew a blank in Naples.

PLAYER RATINGS

Napoli: Reina 7; Maggio 7, Fernandez 9, Albiol 7, Ghoulam 7; Inler 7, Dzemaili 7; Mertens 7, Hamsik 5, Callejon 7; Higuain 6.Subs: Pandev 6, Insigne 6, Henrique 6.

Roma: De Sanctis 7; Maicon 7, Benatia 7, Castan 6, Romagnoli 7; Strootman 6, Nainggolan 6; Florenzi 6, Pjanic 6, Bastos 7; Gervinho 6...Subs: Taddei 5, Ljajic 6, Destro 6.

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