Squaring off in the Derby della Campania, the Partenopei sat top of the table ahead of kick-off whilst their lowly opponents languished in the relegation zone, but they were made to sweat to keep pace with AC Milan in the Scudetto race.
Whilst it was more tense than coach Luciano Spalletti may have hoped, particularly when Salernitana’s Riccardo Gagliolo blazed over from a great position deep into stoppage time, it’s another win on the board for Napoli and makes it 10 victories from 11 matches.
Without star striker Victor Osimhen and with fellow forward Lorenzo Insigne given a rest, Napoli failed to make early dominance count and the encounter was close until Andrea Petagna headed against the crossbar and Zielinski fired in the follow-up on the hour mark.
Spalletti will point to his team’s stunning early form as proof that an unconvincing display in a local derby can be forgiven, but Napoli may yet be concerned by underwhelming performances against Torino and Fiorentina as cause for slight concern, despite the wins.
Victory over Salernitana didn’t come without it’s own cost to the Azzurri either, with key man Kalidou Koulibaly shown a straight red card late on for a cynical foul on Simy. The centre-back has been as reliable as ever this season and his absence may well be keenly felt against surprise package Hellas Verona next weekend.
More worrying for the Napoli faithful however will be the unstoppable force of Milan, who have matched the Partenopei every step of the way but are looking far more fluid and in the ascendancy. The Rossoneri were in complete control for much of their 2-0 win over Roma and appear the team to beat.
Napoli, meanwhile, seem to be riding their luck at times and snatching tight victories to maintain their Scudetto push. Will this luck run out and see Spalletti’s side falter behind Milan, or is it the mark of champions?
The run-in over the next few weeks should offer some clues, whilst a hotly-anticipated clash against the Rossoneri a week before Christmas could yet be decisive.