Pandev's quickfire double puts Napoli top

by
Reuters
Goran Pandev scored two goals in 11 first-half minutes to lift Napoli to the top of Serie A with a 2-0 victory at Genoa on Saturday.

Pandev's Quickfire Double Puts Napoli Top

Goran Pandev scored two goals in 11 first-half minutes to lift Napoli to the top of Serie A with a 2-0 victory at Genoa on Saturday.

Rafael Benitez's unbeaten side, who started with strikers Gonzalo Higuain and Marek Hamsik on the bench ahead of Tuesday's Champions League trip to Arsenal, have 16 points from six games.

Napoli lead by one point from AS Roma who host Bologna on Sunday.

Macedonian forward Pandev fluffed one chance on the break before breaking through in the 14th minute. He pounced on an errant pass from Genoa midfielder Juraj Kucka and skipped past Alessandro Gamberini to calmly shoot his team in front.

With Genoa rocking, Pandev then played a neat one-two with Lorenzo Insigne before finishing well with his right foot from a tight angle.

Pandev's match-winning display came after he was played behind the centre forward, the position he had been asking Benitez to put him.

"I said to him that he has no excuses, he was playing in the centre and he had to score goals, and he did," said the coach.

Benitez was criticised in midweek when he rotated his team and they could only muster a 1-1 home draw in the league against lowly Sassuolo.

"We really wanted three points after the horrible night on Wednesday but those nights can happen to anyone," said Pandev. "Tonight we played really well and deserved the win.

Genoa, who are 15th in the table, put Napoli under a lot of pressure in the second half and the visitors looked a lot less secure especially as injured defender Raul Albiol had made way for Paolo Cannavaro at halftime.

Higuain replaced new signing Duvan Zapata, who had a disappointing debut, with an hour gone and the former Real Madrid frontman had a chance to make it 3-0 in injury time but blazed his shot over the bar.

Struggling AC Milan host third from bottom Sampdoria in Saturday's late game, hoping to grab their second win of the season.