Napoli Consolidate Gattuso Position by Beating Defenseless Parma

If the Serie A Sunday aperitivo match was created to make the fans at home hungry, today’s edition certainly ruined the appetite for many. Napoli – Parma at the Diego Maradona Stadium was a pretty boring match, especially in the first half, though the Partenopei eventually came out as the winners.

Before today, Napoli and Parma had drawn only one of their last 16 Serie A crossings (2-2 in May 2015), with nine Azzurri wins and six Gialloblu successes to complete the set.

All the odds today were backing Rino Gattuso’s men, who had returned to winning ways in the Italian Cup on Thursday after biting the dust last weekend in Verona. Despite Dries Mertens still being unavailable, Maradona’s heirs seemed to have found a good balance with Andrea Petagna backed by Hirving Lozano, Piotr Zielinski and Captain Lorenzo Insigne – whose mind was perhaps still set on that missed penalty in the Super Cup that could have given him his 100th goal for Napoli.

Parma, on the other hand, had to find a solution for their lack of results that made them sink to the second-to-last place in the Serie A table. The Gialloblu recorded seven losses out of their last eight matches (plus one draw with Sassuolo two weeks ago) and were coming from an incredibly negative streak of just two goals in the last seven matches.

With these premises, it was easy to imagine a very tight first half, but it was not the case. For at least 30 minutes, neither team was able to make a single clear shot towards the goal, with goalkeepers Luigi Sepe and David Ospina acting as spectators without paying the ticket.

The balance was broken on 32 minutes thanks to an exceptional Elif Elmas solo. The North Macedonian received the ball in midfield and dashed towards the goal, dribbling past five Parma opponents before piercing Sepe to the far post with a clinical left-foot strike.

But the way Parma’s defense left the former Fenerbahce man free to perform his exploit was almost embarrassing, and that will give a few more headaches to poor coach Roberto D’Aversa.

The second half started with the visitors trying to surprise Gennaro Gattuso’s side, but their efforts could only produce a disallowed goal from Gastòn Brugman as the Brazilian put the ball in the net despite being clearly offside when Gervinho served him.

That served as a wake up call for the home side, however, and on 63 minutes Gattuso replaced an inconsistent Andrea Petagna with Matteo Politano.

Parma eventually had another chance to equalize but, when former Milan man Andrea Conti missed an easy conversion, the Gialloblu must have thought they had no hope.

And so, on 77 minutes, Elmas decided it was time to close the match once for all, but his shooting attempt had not taken Yordan Osorio’s decisive reaction into account. Napoli didn’t have to wait too much, however, as five minutes later Matteo Politano tried to shoot from sidereal distance and found Osorio’s deflection – this time in the wrong direction. 

The Partenopei could have had their third, but Lorenzo Insigne missed another occasion to get his 100th Napoli goal as he digit hit the post from a wonderful Politano assist.

That was too bad for the Napoli captain, but what matters in the end is that the home side made a full score to remain fifth in the table as they wait for direct contender Roma to receive Verona tonight. Parma, on the other hand, are getting more and more mired in the relegation dogfight.   



January 31, 2021 – Serie A 2020-2021 Round 20

SCORERS: 32′ Elmas, 82′ Politano

NAPOLI (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Mario Rui (77′ Hysaj); Demme, Elmas (77′ Maksimovic); Lozano, Zielinski (70′ Bakayoko), Insigne; Petagna (63′ Politano) (Meret, Contini, Osimhen, Ghoulam, Rrahmani, Cioffi, Lobotka) Coach: Gattuso
PARMA (4-3-3): Sepe; Conti, Osorio, Gagliolo, Pezzella (79′ Busi); Grassi (45′ Hernani), Brugman (80′ Man), Kurtic (81′ Cyprien); Kucka, Cornelius, Gervinho (Colombi, Iacoponi, Dierckx, Zagaritis, Mihaila, Sohm, Brunetta, Sprocati) Coach: D’Aversa

REFEREE: La Penna from Rome
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Gagliolo, Pezzella, Brugman, Conti (P), Demme, Zielinski (N); Extra Time: First Half 1′, Second Half 4′