Impressive start for Benitez in Naples as Hamsik scores twice.
The excitement ahead of the return of Serie A football was quickly replaced with opening day disappointment for AC Milan, as they fell to a 2-1 defeat to Hellas Verona.
Critics had been vocal over the lack of transfer activity the Rossoneri had been involved in this summer thus far, and despite a bright opening half an hour to the game, Massimiliano Allegri’s side were over-run by their newly-promoted hosts, and in particular, Luca Toni.
“The two goals are dedicated to my wife Marta and my daughter Bianca,” the 36-year-old told La Gazzetta dello Sport on Sunday as reported by Football Italia after bagging a brace on his debut.
However, while he will undoubtedly be delighted with his immediate contribution, he has piled early pressure on Allegri ahead of the Champions League qualifying second leg against PSV on Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, there were no such problems for defending champions Juventus, with Carlos Tevez scoring the winner on his Serie A debut at Sampdoria in front of former boss Roberto Mancini.
The Bianconeri have been installed as the favourites to clinch a “three-peat” this season, and with Tevez already proving decisive they will undoubtedly be hard to beat this year but were perhaps not the most impressive side on the opening weekend.
Walter Mazzarri began life in charge of Inter with a win over Genoa at San Siro, with goals from Yuto Nagatomo and Rodrigo Palacio securing a 2-0 victory.
Much had been made of his desire to see the Nerazzurri switch to a three-man defence, but it appeared to work well as his side ground out a solid win after Dejan Stankovic bid an emotional farewell to the club prior to kick-off.
Having chosen to ignore questions on the future of Erik Lamela, Rudi Garcia saw his Roma side claim their first three points away at Livorno.
Goals from Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi ensured he got off to a winning start after he had emphasised the importance of concentrating on matters on the pitch, while city rivals Lazio, Cagliari and Torino were all victorious on Sunday.
However, the best was perhaps saved for last as Napoli put on an impressive performance at the San Paolo in their 3-0 win over Bologna.
Pre-game controversy surrounded club captain Paolo Cannavaro, who was left on the bench, but after Jose Callejon scored on his debut, Marek Hamsik ensured it was a night to remember for coach Rafa Benitez in his first competitive game in charge.
With both Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani quitting Naples over the past two years, Hamsik has maintained that he feels at home in the city and has no intention of leaving. Having watched his performance last night, he is perhaps an early candidate for player of the year given the nature of his role in Benitez’s system.
The Spaniard revealed after the game that he wasn’t surprised by the performance, but nevertheless all that was perhaps missing was a debut goal for Gonzalo Higuain, who found the back of the net but was adjudged to be offside.