Napoli vs Lazio 1-2: Champions Put to the Sword in the South

Last season’s Serie A Champions Napoli took on the runners-up Lazio in Stadio Diego Armando Maradona this evening with the Biancocelesti coming out on top.

Napoli wanted to continue their perfect start to the season under new boss Rudi Garcia and they started in the right fashion, dominating the opening minutes with Kvicha Kvaratskhelia up to his usual tricks out wide. He fired a warning shot wide at the Biancocelesti who were still not out of the starting block. Shortly after Ivan Provedel pushed a free kick over and last season Capocannoniere Victor Osimhen headed over from the resulting corner.

After the disappointing loss to Genoa last week, Lazio Boss Maurizio Sarri said it was impossible for his squad to be in good shape this early in the season and he seemed to be right with his men struggling to play out from the back with Napoli’s press proving very effective.

Completely against the run of the play on the half hour mark, Felipe Anderson was released down the ring and found a path into the box. The Brazilian stuck his head up and spotted Luis Alberto completely unmarked at the near post. With one gracious movement, Alberto finished with a wonderful backheel past the helpless Alex Meret.

It wasn’t to last long though as the Scudetto holders came roaring back within two minutes. Matteo Politano had a cross cleared poorly and it dropped to Zielenski who tried his luck from the edge of the area. With a double deflection from Kamada and Romagnoli, it wrongfooteIvan Provedel and levelled the game for the home side.

Napoli persisted until half time with excitement growing anytime Victor Osimhen touched the ball and overlapping wide players looking like trouble but we went into the break at one a piece.

Piotr Zielinski forced Provedel into a flying save early in the 2nd period but it was the visitors who took control and the lead. On 52 minutes, Zielinski lost the ball in the centre and Felipe Anderson pounced. He burst down the wing and crossed low and hard towards Luis Alberto. The Spaniard had great awareness to perform a cheeky dummy that freed up Daichi Kamada who entered the area and struck to claim his first goal in Lazio colours.

Once they took the lead Lazio wanted to protect their precious three points and were often found with seven or eight men in their defensive third to try crowd out the Partenopei who grew fond of shooting from far out.

On 67 minutes, Lazio were denied another goal when Mattia Zaccagni was unleashed down the left by  Matteo Guendouzi who had just come on in place of Kamada but was judged to have timed his run wrong by VAR. Less than five minutes later Lazio VAR intervened again with Guendouzi denied a debut goal when Zaccagni was told he interfered with play in the build up.

The champions felt they were losing control so coach Rudi Garcia tried to get an equalizer by throwing on Giovanni Simeone, Jesper Lindstrom and Giacomo Raspadori. It didn’t pan out the way he wanted in the closing stages and Napoli just couldn’t create the clear chances they needed to get back into it. Even the cries of their supporters couldn’t help crack the Lazio defence that sat in front of the goal.

Lazio are finally off the mark and can sleep a bit easier tonight with three points and a precious victory away at the champions in the bank. Napoli won’t be best pleased with their first loss of the season but they have plenty of time to keep their Scudetto.