Gonzalo Higuain hit his 10th goal of the campaign to take the lead in Serie A’s scoring charts on Sunday as Napoli went provisionally top of the pile thanks to a 2-0 win at struggling Verona.
Higuain was expected to start on the bench for Sunday’s trip to the Bentegodi stadium after coach Maurizio Sarri claimed the Argentina striker had returned “fatigued” from international duty in midweek.
But Higuain shook off the effects of his cross-Atlantic trip to bundle home from close range to double the visitors lead after Lorenzo Insigne had broken the deadlock on 67 minutes.
Insigne struck his seventh goal of the campaign when he collected Marek Hamsik’s rolled pass across the edge of the area to beat Rafael with a low strike that went in off the far post.
Verona fans were given brief hope when evergreen striker Luca Toni came off the bench to end his two-month injury absence, but moments later Higuain struck to virtually seal the points.
The result sent Napoli top of Serie A with a one-point lead on Fiorentina, Roma and Inter Milan, although Fiorentina and Inter are in action later Sunday at home to Empoli and Frosinone respectively and will be expected to prevail.
Verona, still the only team without a win, remain second from bottom but could go last if Carpi claim at least a point at home to Chievo later.
Roma warmed up for a crucial Champions League trip to Barcelona on Tuesday with a 2-2 draw at Bologna on Saturday, when former Giallorossi striker Mattia Destro levelled for the hosts with an 88th minute penalty.
Champions Juventus, meanwhile, warmed up for the visit of Manchester City on Wednesday with a cagey 1-0 win over AC Milan in Turin on Saturday, Paulo Dybala hitting the winner on 65 minutes to seal their third consecutive league win.
Ahead of the remainder of Sunday’s fixtures, Juve are currently sixth and seven points behind Napoli.