Roma’s Miralem 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 unable to get anything going against Roma’s pressing.
Gervinho also missed 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.
Pandev then had a great chance to put Napoli ahead when he run on to Insigne’s superb long ball, but one-on-one with Morgan De Sanctisk, he was unable to score, De Sanctisk making a big save.
Despite the Pandev chance, Roma continued to dominate and Florenzi’s angled low drive went just a metre wide of Reina’s upright and Gervinho had claims for a penalty waved away after he tumbled in the area as he cut in from the left.
Kevin Strootman then saw a drive from distance just sail over the bar. Insigne spurned a second great chance for Napoli when he sent his low shot from close in off the post after evading a clumsy challenge from Maicon.
Rafa Benitez was hoping his side could hold out until half-time when he could regroup but that didn’t happen as in injury time, Pjanic stepping up to send a sublime curling free kick past Reina from 25 metres out.
Whatever Rafa said at halftime seemed to work as Napoli dominated the opening exchanges and Gokhan Inler almost levelled with a superb first-time drive the came off de Sanctis’s upright.
But without the power and drive of Gonzalo Higuain (he was a substitute), Napoli are not the same team going forward and Roma were comfortably able to ride out the pressure.
Then in the 70th minute,Napoli defender Paolo Cannavaro was sent off for a clumsy challenge on Marco Borriello in the penalty box and Pjanic made no mistake from the spot, sending Reina the wrong way with a powerful shot that rocked the back of the net.
Roma are answering all the questions asked of them this season. When they won their first six games the critics said that they had not played anyone. Well in the last games they have beaten Inter and Napoli comfortably. At what point does Roma become genuine title contenders?