Demme and Elmas help resurgent Napoli beat Sampdoria
Diego Demme and Eljif Elmas scored their first Serie A goals as Napoli followed up last weekend's win over champions Juventus with a 4-2 victory at Sampdoria on Monday.
Gennaro Gattuso's side claimed back-to-back league wins for just the second time this season to move 10th, two points off the Europa League berths.
But a return to the Champions League remains a distant hope as Napoli, who also dumped holders Lazio out of the Italian Cup last month, remain nine points behind fourth-placed Atalanta and Roma.
"We're back," declared captain Lorenzo Insigne following a hard-fought game in which Sampdoria came from two goals down to level at 2-2.
"We're giving continuity to the work we do during the week with the coach. This is a victory for the group.
"The Champions League is feasible but we have to think game by game. We've done a lot of damage, but now we have to recover and get our season back on track."
Arkadiusz Milik struck early for the visitors, nodding in the first after just three minutes off a cross from fellow Pole Piotr Zielinski, as a flare on the pitch in Genoa distracted the Sampdoria defenders.
North Macedonia international Elmas tapped in a second after quarter of an hour for his first goal in Italy's top flight.
But Sampdoria halved the deficit with Fabio Quagliarella's powerful volley on 26 minutes.
Gaston Ramirez had the ball in the back of the net before the hour mark with a spectacular overhead kick, but VAR ruled that Manolo Gabbiadini's arm touched the ball in the build-up.
Gabbiadini pulled Sampdoria level from the penalty spot with 15 minutes to go after Kostas Manolas tripped Quagliarella in the box.
Demme, who arrived last month from RB Leipzig, restored Napoli's advantage seven minutes from time with Dries Mertens sweeping the fourth into an empty net deep into injury time.
Claudio Ranieri's Sampdoria sit four points above the relegation zone.
"We must continue to believe," said Ranieri.
"Quagliarella is playing well. We hope to see other similar pearls to his goal today."
© 2020 AFP