Napoli 2-1 Juventus
Napoli stunned league leaders Juventus tonight with a well earned win thanks to second half strikes from Piotr Zielinski and Lorenzo Insigne.
Cristiano Ronaldo pulled a goal back but it was too little to late as Napoli celebrated.
I Bianconeri is still leading Serie A, but could have stretched their lead at the top of the table. Their closest rivals both drew today, Inter were held at home by Cagliari and Lazio took a point in a 1-1 draw in the Rome Derby.
The Serie A 2020 on a ninth successive Scudetto for the Old Lady have been dropping week by week, but Napoli’s show inspired by a captain’s performance from Insigne has ensured the race is still on.
Highlights of the game
Remarkably, Napoli started the game in 13th place and that seemed to have hit a nerve as the hosts had much the better of the first half. Azzurri captain Insigne has been struggling for form this season, but he looked up for the fight tonight, teeing up Fabian Ruiz for the first shot on goal, but his third minute try flew wide.
Top scorer Arek Milik met a Mario Rui cross but his close range effort was high and wide. Jose Callejon forced Juve keeper Wojciech Szczesny into a save with a header from another Insigne cross, and then when the skipper found him again on the half hour, his shot flew narrowly wide. Polish midfielder Zielinski got in on the act, feeding Milik, but this time his shot was charged down as the Bianconeri defence held firm.
Ronaldo has been in scintillating form recently and he eventually had a good chance to break the deadlock just before half time. Milik fouled Miralem Pjanic, and when Paulo Dybala sent over the free-kick Ronaldo met it with a firm header but it was too high.
Napoli started the second half much as they did the first, Insigne buzzing around, and feeding Rui for an early sight of goal. Then Zielinski fired one over after good work from Ruiz. Napoli keeper Alex Meret had his first piece of work to do with the hour mark approaching; Ronaldo linked up with Gonzalo Higuain and the former Napoli hero fired low towards the bottom right corner only for Meret to stretch out a strong hand.
Then came the breakthrough. Insigne hit a low shot destined for the bottom corner but Szczesny saved, though there was nothing he could do when Zielinski latched on to the loose ball and fired high into the top left corner to send the San Paulo crowd wild.
Juve came close to equalising when Matthijs de Ligt met a Juan Cuadrado cross but his header was wide, then Meret saved a Higuain header low to his right.
Zielinski had a shot blocked and Insigne tried his luck, but his effort was high and wide. Then, with just four minutes left on the clock Insigne got his goal. Callejon found him in space just inside the penalty area and he despatched his shot high into the top left corner.
Juve halved the deficit deep in injury time when Ronaldo latched onto a Rodrigo Bentancur through ball and calmly converted, but when Meret held on to Higuain’s last gasp effort it was job done!
In Juve’s last away game, they were 0-2 up against Roma within ten minutes but they didn’t manage a shot on target in the first half, registering three efforts to Napoli’s six. The hosts only managed to test the Juve keeper once in a tight first 45 minutes.
But the match came to life in the second half, with both teams finishing on four efforts on target, while Napoli won the shot count by 15 to eight.
The pre-match SBOTOP had Napoli at 3.30 but they looked back to their best from the off.
It’s just a second win in 13 league games but Napoli is back in the right half of the table, just…in tenth place.
Ronaldo’s goal was his 12th in eight games in all competitions…impressive!
I Bianconeri has two games against mid-table sides to come over the next couple of weeks, firstly at home to Florentine next week, and then the Old Lady takes a trip to Verona to take on Hellas.
Napoli’s next two fixtures are against two struggling sides. On 3rd February Tattoo’s team visits 16th placed Amphora, before welcoming Lecce to the San Paulo. Anything less than six points will be bad news for the Azzurri.
Napoli desperately needs an upturn in Serie A 2020 results to keep the season alive for their loyal fans…and this was a great start.
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