Alberto Zapater scored the first goal of the UEFA Europa League group stage to set Genoa CFC on course for a 2-0 victory against SK Slavia Praha.
The Rossoblù have won all three of their Serie A outings this season and that perfect record rarely looked under threat at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris once Spanish midfielder Zapater had found the net with a delightful free-kick inside four minutes. Giuseppe Sculli doubled the lead with another neat finish on 39, condemning the Czech visitors to a sixth successive defeat on Italian soil.
Zapater gave an indication of his dead-ball ability with the winning goal in the 3-2 defeat of AS Roma on the opening day of the season, and did not need long to have the home fans on their feet again tonight as he beat Slavia goalkeeper Martin Vaniak with a whipped free-kick from out wide. The visitors could have levelled within four minutes, but once Zdeněk Šenkeřík had dragged a left-footed shot just over the bar following a defensive mistake Genoa upped their game.
Hernán Crespo was centimetres away from nodding Genoa in front from their next attack, while Vaniak was able to palm away decent efforts from Sculli and Zapater either side of the half-hour. Sculli was to have the better of their next exchange, however, timing his run between two defenders perfectly to volley in a right-wing cross from the impressive Nenad Tomović.
Hit the bar
Chances were typically of the half variety in the second period, Zapater going closest to extending the lead when the ball deflected off his outstretched leg on to the top of the bar after 70 minutes. Brave defending from Domenico Criscito and Marco Amelia's late fingertip stop ensured Genoa equalled their record two-goal victory in Europe, further boosting confidence ahead of their trip to Valencia CF in a fortnight's time.