Napoli solidified their place at the top of the Serie A table by putting second-placed Juventus to the sword in Friday’s mouth-watering contest at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Inspired by Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, the Partenopei thrashed the record-time Italian champions 5-1 to extend their lead at the summit to ten points.
Encouraged by an intimidating atmosphere at the Maradona, Napoli needed only 14 minutes to unlock Juventus’ defense, which had not conceded in eight straight Serie A matches in the lead-up to this fixture. Kvaratskhelia took an exquisite half-volley, forcing Wojciech Szczesny to pull off a stunning save, but Osimhen headed home from point-blank to break the deadlock.
Napoli continued to dominate their opponents through and through in the opening half an hour, but Massimiliano Allegri’s men weathered the storm. Or so they thought. The home side intensified the pressure as the first half was coming to a close and it paid off. Osimhen took advantage of Alex Sandro’s woeful reaction to set Kvaratskhelia up one-on-one with Szczesny. The 21-year-old slotted home effortlessly to double his team’s lead.
However, Luciano Spalletti’s team failed to carry a two-goal cushion into the second half as Angel Di Maria netted what turned out to be a consolation goal on the stroke of halftime. Though the Argentine’s sublime finish was supposed to bring Juventus back to life, Napoli demolished their visitors in the second half.
Amir Rrahmani caught a thunderous half-volley from Kvaratskhelia’s resulting corner to restore a two-goal lead for Napoli only ten minutes after the break. But it was only a sign of things to come. The rising Georgian star delivered another superb assist just ten minutes later, with Osimhen smashing a towering header to put the fourth on the board for the rampant hosts.
It wasn’t the end of Juventus’ misery in south Italy tonight. Second-half substitute Elif Elmas eased past Filip Kostic with a simple dribble and was lucky to see Danilo tackle his low effort into the roof of the net. Napoli got their fifth in the 72nd minute, and only Spalletti’s decision to kill off the pace helped Juventus avoid further catastrophe.
Apart from beating the Bianconeri in four consecutive Serie A encounters at home, Napoli have possibly made a crucial step towards landing their first Scudetto since 1990. With ten points now separating the sides, the Partenopei have seemingly eradicated Juventus’ hopes of ending a two-season wait for the Serie A title.
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