Bologna got off to a brilliant start with a goal after 25 seconds, but Napoli turned the game around and won deservedly. Despite this, the home-side’s second goal came from a very dubious penalty, and questions therefore need to be asked about VAR.
Roberto Donadoni made three changes from the win against Benevento. Filip Helander returned to the team to replace Domenico Maietta, Erick Pulgar came straight back into the team after his injury at the expense of Godfred Donsah, whilst Federico Di Francesco came in for Mattia Destro.
First half: Napoli kicked off the game, but lost possession almost immediately. Bologna went straight on the counter with Dzemaili advancing forward with the ball at his feet. He passed the ball easily into the path of Di Francesco on the left-hand side, who curled in a cross to the far post. Waiting there was the veteran Rodrigo Palacio, the striker of the day, who headed the ball into the net, off the post. 1-0 to Bologna after a mere 25 seconds.
The crazy start wasn’t over as Verdi was substituted because of a thigh injury, with Ladislav Krejci coming on. Napoli then won a corner which ended in the net and an own-goal for Ibrahima M’baye.
Napoli’s play improved drastically after the equalizer, and they got two huge chances the first twenty minutes, but neither Allan nor Callejon managed to score. Bologna then went very close to regain their lead on the counter, but Palacio and Dzemaili weren’t able to convert the chance into a goal. The chances continued to come for Palacio, as a long ball was played behind Napoli’s defence to the Argentinian striker, but Reina denied the veteran his second of the day.
Napoli got a penalty after 35 minutes when Callejon fell to the ground. Embarrassing from the referee and the Spanish winger, as Callejon fell way to easily to the ground when Adam Masina touched him.
Second half: The referee continued to favour Napoli in the second half as they got an incredible cheap free kick after a couple of minutes, when Mertens fell to the ground after De Maio had barely touched him.
Then, just before the hour mark, Napoli doubled their lead. Bologna lost the ball in attack which led to Napoli launching an attack. Mertens got the ball down the right-hand side, cut inside, before he curled the ball into the far corner with Mirante standing no chance to save it.
The home side’s third goal took the tempo out of the game, as Napoli seemed to be happy with cruising in the three points, while Bologna never managed to trouble Napoli going forward.
What we learned:
Donadoni’s decision to bench Destro to utilize a more fluid front-three was quite interesting. What was even more interesting though was his decision to put on Krejci when Verdi went off injured a few minutes into the game. Destro has improved lately, and he put in a good performance versus Benevento last weekend. For him then to be dropped was quite surprising, and Krejci coming on in front of him was even more weird, and this raises a lot of questions; Has something happened in training that merited Destro to be benched? There has been some transfer rumours regarding Destro, is he on his way out of the club? Krejci hasn’t impressed this season, why was he then preferred in front of Destro and even Orji Okwonkwo who has been promising this season? It will be interesting to see who Donadoni chooses versus Fiorentina next weekend.
I’m beginning to sense an emerging full-back problem at Bologna. Masina has not impressed be this season, his contract expires in the summer of 2019, and it may be time to cash in on him. M’baye’s own goal today was perhaps a bit unlucky, but he has been involved in several conceded goals this season. With neither Torosidis nor Krafth having impressed this season, Bologna should be working on strengthening the full-back areas in the summer.
Firstly; Masina shouldn’t have put his arm on Callejon’s shoulder as that invited the winger to fall down. However, having said that, Masina barely graced him and it should not have been a penalty. VAR was apparently used and the referee made a horrible call to give Napoli the spot kick. Yet again Bologna was on the end of a bad decision, but overall the penalty was down to Masina’s inexperience. He gave the referee an opportunity to blow his whistle, and Masina should not have done that.
Rodrigo Palacio: Palacio was the pick of the bunch among Bologna’s players against Napoli. The veteran caused havoc on several occasions throughout the game, got a goal, and really should have had at least one more. Donadoni’s decision to bench Destro and put Palacio up front was therefore successful.
Bologna’s next game is against Fiorentina next sunday at Renato Dall’Ara. La Viola lost 4-1 at home to Verona today, and they will undoubtedly want to prove their quality in the derby. A tough game, but with the home-crowd in their back, Bologna can definitely win the game.
Photo: Bologna FC