MILAN: Miralem Pjanic scored twice, once from the spot, to hand Roma a 2-0 win over Napoli and extend their lead in Italy’s Serie A to five points yesterday.
Napoli, under the watchful eyes of former star Diego Maradona, began the match two points off the pace and hoping to upset Rudi Garcia’s early season pacesetters.
However, Rafael Benitez’s men spurned two great chances in the first half when both Goran Pandev and Lorenzo Insigne missed the target from scoring positions.
After Pjanic’s curling free kick gave Roma a 1-0 lead late in the first half, the Bosnian midfielder made it two -- this time from the spot -- after Napoli defender Paolo Cannavaro saw red for a clumsy challenge on Marco Borriello.
Roma now sit top with a maximum 24 points from eight games with Napoli, conceding their first defeat of the season, losing second place to Juventus, who visit Fiorentina tomorrow.
Pjanic fired a warning early on when he hit a goalbound rocket on the bounce that was blocked, and for the opening quarter hour Napoli were tamed by Roma’s pressing.
Gervinho also spurned an early chance, scuffing his shot high with Pepe Reina at his mercy and minutes later Pjanic hit a low angled drive from distance which whizzed past Reina’s upright.
Tempers flared just before the half hour when Maicon was fouled by Giandomenico Mesto, handing possession to Pandev who was then cautioned for a wayward elbow as he was challenged from behind.Pandev somehow spurned Napoli’s best chance of the half after escaping his marker in midfield to run on to Insigne’s superb long ball.
The striker was clear on goal but former Napoli ‘keper Morgan De Sanctis shut down the angle and got a hand to Pandev’s shot, which was then cleared acrobatically by Daniele De Rossi.
Roma, however, had the momentum. AFP