Cagliari Salvage Draw Away to Napoli to Keep Fighting for Survival

Napoli hosted Cagliari Sunday afternoon at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium in a huge game for both clubs.

With the season drawing to a close Napoli were looking to secure Champions League football and Gattuso made 3 changes from the mid week win at Torino. At centre-back Greek Kostas Manolas returned alongside Koulibaly, Fabian Ruiz partnered Diego Demme in midfield with Tiémoué Bakayoko dropping to the bench and Lozano came into attack for Mateo Politano.

Cagliari coach Leonardo Simplici was looking to guide his side to their four successive victory and made changes to keep his side fresh for the encounter and to try and nullify Napoli’s attacking threat.

First choice goalkeeper Alessio Cragno was recalled for stand in Guglielmo Vicario. Influential Romanian Răzvan Marin was ruled out and replaced in midfield by on-loan Ghanian Alfred Duncan. João Pedro and Giovanni Simeone dropped out of attack leaving Leonardo Pavoletti to be supported by Radja Nainggolan. Gabriele Zappa came into right wing with Nahitan Nández moving into central midfield.

It was the Neapolitans who opened the scoring in the 13th minute through Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen with his fourth goal in his last 5 games. Lorenzo Insigne was the instigator picking the ball up and threading a pass through for Osimhen beat the run of defender Godin and slid his first time finish into the bottom right hand corner past Cragno.

Lozano had a good chance to double the lead for Napoli in the first half but steered his header just wide of the left hand post after being found by a curling Insigne cross.

After the restart, Osimhen missed a glorious chance to add to his tally guiding his header this time wide. A corner was played short and rolled to Koulibaly on the edge who lifted a clever ball over the top of the defence to the onrushing Zielinski. The polish midfielder cushioned a first time left footed cross to Osimhen who placed the header wide with Cragno beaten.

Cagliari struggled throughout to create any chances as the game fell into a malaise with Napoli struggling to break down their opposition. The game appeared to be headed in Napoli’s favour with time running out but deep into stoppage time after lengthy delays for injuries to Osimhen and Koulibaly, Cagliari found an equaliser.

Alfred Duncan collected the ball just inside the Napoli half. Spotting a deep run from Nández on the right hand side of the box, the midfielder drilled a lofted pass over the defence into his path and side footed a finish inside Meret’s near post to send his team mates into wild celebration.

This point could prove absolutely vital with Cagliari to play Benevento at the Stadio Ciro Vigorito in a potentially huge relegation decider next Sunday.

As for Napoli, they will travel to Spezia ruing the drop points in the race for the Champions League, opening the door for Juventus to jump ahead of them and back into the top four.