Napoli moved to within four points of Juventus at the top of the Serie A table with a hard fought 3-0 victory over Udinese on Saturday evening.


The visitors got off to the perfect start, capitalising on an early spell of dominance with a superb curling strike from Fabian Ruiz just 13 minutes in.


Despite that early setback, Udinese responded well and were much the better side for the rest of the first half, testing Orestis Karnezis in the Napoli goal on a handful of occasions.

​​The second half started in the same vein, with Carlo Ancelotti's men looking a little off the pace, especially in the middle of the park. 


However, a late penalty from Dries Mertens and a deflected strike from Marko Rog confirmed the victory which had previously been in some doubt.


Check out our breakdown of the game below.


NAPOLI


Key Talking Point


After ​Juventus uncharacteristically slipped up against Genoa earlier in the day, ​Napoli had to make sure that they registered a win in this one to put some real pressure on the run away league leaders.


It was by no means a brilliant performance, with the 3-0 scoreline flattering Ancelotti's side, but the match showed that they have the grit and determination to come through tough tests when they aren't at their best.

It is hard to see anyone but Juventus lifting the​ Serie A trophy at the end of the season, but Napoli look like they have the credentials to push the Old Lady all the way once again.


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Karnezis (7); Malcuit (6), Albiol (5), Koulibaly (7), Hysai (6); Callejon (6), Allan (7), Zielinski (6), Verdi (N/A); Mertens (7), Milik (6).


Substitutes: Ruiz (8*), Hamsik (6), Rog (7).


Star Man - Napoli fans would have been incredibly frustrated to see Simone Verdi hobble off after just two minutes, but those same frustrations were soon forgotten when Fabian Ruiz took to the field.


The young Spaniard looked sharp right from the off, with his incisive passing and quick movement causing Udinese a whole host of problems. His opening goal was a thing of beauty and summed up what was a very tidy performance.



Worst Player - It is hard to criticise any defender who is a part of a back line that keeps a clean sheet, but Raul Albiol wasn't at his best in this one.


He had to be bailed out on a number of occasions by his centre back partner Kalidou Koulibaly and was given the run around by Kevin Lasagna - especially during the first half.


Looking Ahead


Napoli will now be switching their attentions to a Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germaine on Wednesday evening. Following that, Gli Azurrii host Roma in the Serie A next Sunday.