Bologna 3-2 Napoli: Match report and player ratings; Napoli's late capitulation encapsulates their season

25 May at 22:29
On a night where you could have been forgiven for expecting two teams with little to play for to play out a low-key end of season affair, both teams served up a treat on the final match day of the season. In the first half Bologna showed just how far they have come under Sinisa Mihajlovic, with a fantastic display coupling their defensive graft with some lovely free flowing attacking football. In the second period Napoli showed the grit and determination that has seen them win countless points late in games, but ultimately they fell short of what was expected of them.
 
 Napoli dominated the opening exchanges, playing some lovely one touch football in the build-up, but throughout the first half their final ball and finishing were lacking. Bologna grew in confidence as the half went on, with Pulgar pulling the strings for them in midfield. Napoli looked shaky at the back, perhaps because Ancelotti chose to rest his defensive lynchpin in Koulibaly, but their lack of defensive cohesion certainly played a part in Bologna taking control of the game towards the end of the first half. Bologna gave Napoli two warning signs of what was to come, first through a Santander header from a corner that he glanced just wide of the mark, and then Orsolini wasted a great chance from inside the six-yard box when he was picked out by Palacios’ measured cross.
 
These warning signs weren’t heeded by the Napoli defence and Bologna eventually took a deserved lead when Palacios whipped a ball in from the left-hand side, and Santander’s header went back across the goal and nestled in the bottom left hand corner. Moments later ex-Napoli man Dzemali burst through the midfield and ran unchallenged to the edge of the Napoli box before his precise finish flew past Karnezis and into the Napoli goal.
 
Napoli responded well in the early stages of the second half. Milik saw a long-range effort fly a whisker past the post as the away side sought a way back into the game, and shortly after Ghoulam did indeed give Napoli some hope when he sped onto a long Rui through ball before lofting his finish over Skrorupski and halving the deficit. That hope turned into something more concrete when Younes picked up Zielinski’s delightful chipped cross and laid the ball off perfectly to Mertens, who slotted home from inside the six-yard box, to draw Napoli level. Zielinski could have won it late on when his long-range effort struck the post, but instead it was Bologna who took the three points when Santander somehow managed to direct a cross that was behind him into the corner of the Napoli’s goal.
 
The second half felt like a perfect way to sum up Napoli’s season, they have gotten themselves out of jail multiple times in recent months, but it hasn’t been enough to appease their fans. Their performances over the second part of the season have lacked consistency, and while they have shown flashes of the football they are capable of, they have been unable to do so on a regular basis. If they genuinely have ambitions of challenging Juventus next season, then they must strengthen significantly.


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