December 29, 2017 / 9:58 PM / a year ago

Hamsik ensures Napoli reach halfway mark as leaders

MILAN (Reuters) - A first-half goal from club record scorer Marek Hamsik gave Napoli a 1-0 win at Crotone on Friday, ensuring they will reach the halfway point of the Serie A season as leaders.

Napoli have 48 points after 19 of 38 matches, four ahead of champions Juventus who visit Verona on Saturday. Their record includes 15 wins, three draws and one defeat.

Napoli dominated possession and created more chances but also survived a couple of second-half scares against the side coached by former Italy goalkeeper Walter Zenga.

Hamsik put Napoli ahead in the 17th minute at the end of a typically flowing move, playing a one-two with Allan which opened up the Crotone defence before placing his shot wide of Alex Cordaz.

It was the Slovakian midfielder’s 117th goal for the club, two more than the previous record set by Argentine Diego Maradona.

Lorenzo Insigne had a shot tipped away by Alex Cordaz and Dries Mertens curled a free kick over the crossbar in further first-half attacks by the visitors.

Napoli were close again when Insigne crashed a shot against the crossbar midway through the second half, but they did not have it all their own way.

Adrian Stoian fired a long-range shot narrowly wide after surging forward from midfield and Giovanni Crociata had a dipping 30-metre effort turned away by Pepe Reina.

Crotone had vociferous appeals for a penalty waved away in stoppage time and replays clearly showed that, far from being tripped, their forward Federico Ceccherini tried to wrap his leg around a Napoli defender.

Crotone, who last season pulled off one of the greatest escapes Serie A has ever seen, remained stuck in the relegation zone in 18th place with 15 points.

Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern, editing by Ed Osmond

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