Rome, Oct 19 — Miralem Pjanic scored a brace as Serie A leaders Roma beat 10-man Napoli 2-0 at home Friday to stretch their winning start to the league season to eight games.
He curled in a brilliant free-kick at the additional time of the first half before converting a penalty to secure the 2-0 home win over Napoli, to the dismay of Napoli’s former player Diego Maradona who was watching from the stands.
Napoli central defender Paolo Cannavaro had a night to forget as he gave way and was punished with cards for each of the dead-ball kicks from which Roma scored.
Roma head coach Rudi Garcia praised his side as outstanding as Michel Platini’s Juventus.
The Rome side is the fourth team ever to win the opening eight Serie A games after Juventus in 1930-31, 1985-86 and 2005-06.
“Francesco’s Tonight Totti’s Roma matched Michel Platini’s Juventus under the gaze of Diego Maradona. I am very proud to have contributed to that,” Garcia said.
His Napoli counterpart Rafa Benitez chose to see positive signs from his side’s loss.
“I think the opening 20 minutes was tough for us, then for the rest of the first half we did very well, in my view better than Roma,” he said.
“I look at the performance and in terms of character Napoli did very well this evening. I said beforehand this game would not decide the title, but clearly with the way we played tonight I’d say it was a positive evening. We played well and this bodes well for the future,” he added.
Roma goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis touched Pandev’s shot to slow it down, giving Deniele De Rossi sufficient time to race back and clear the ball off the goal-line.
In the 45th minute, Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne wasted a glaring chance when he saw his shot hit the post.
And deep into first-half stoppage time the breakthrough came at the other end when Cannavaro brought down Gervinho 22 yards from goal, and Pjanic fired over the wall and into the top right corner.
Cannavaro dragged back Marco Borriello in the area in the 70th minute to see the referee dismiss him and award Roma a penalty, which was converted by Pjanic.