Kostic fires Juve past Inter as ruthless Napoli continue title march

March 21, 2023

MILAN: Filip Kostic continued Juventus´ push towards Serie A´s European places with the only goal in Sunday´s 1-0 win at Inter Milan, a result which also meant Napoli extended...

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MILAN: Filip Kostic continued Juventus´ push towards Serie A´s European places with the only goal in Sunday´s 1-0 win at Inter Milan, a result which also meant Napoli extended their lead to 19 points thanks to a 4-0 thrashing of Torino.

Serbia winger Kostic rifled home the winner 22 minutes into an underwhelming encounter at the San Siro, his third league goal of the season enraging Inter who couldn´t believe it wasn´t ruled out for an Adrien Rabiot handball.

Inter coach Simone Inzaghi described the goal as "unacceptable in the VAR era", saying that he could "barely speak" about the match such was his outrage at the decision. VAR officials took several minutes to decide there were no images which confimed the handball and give Kostic´s strike, allowing seventh-placed Juve to move up to 41 points, seven from the Champions League positions.

"The referee´s decision should be accepted, when they go well for you and when they don´t," said an irritated Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri to DAZN when pressed on his view of the incident.

Allegri´s side are hoping their 15-point penalty for illicit transfer activity is overturned as that would put them second, a position now occupied by Lazio who won a tense Rome derby 1-0. Inter have been wildly inconsistent all season and their ninth loss of the campaign came against a Juve team missing a host of injured or unfit players.

Napoli now only need 15 more points to guarantee the league title, even if Lazio win all of their remaining 11 matches. Without the deduction, Juve would still trail Napoli by 15 points. The only negatives for Juve were substitute Federico Chiesa limping off with seven minutes remaining and Leandro Paredes being red carded alongside Inter´s Danilo D´Ambrosio as tempers flared after the final whistle.

Victor Osimhen took his league-leading goal tally to 21 with two towering headers with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia scoring a 35th-minute penalty in a simple win for champions-elect Napoli at Torino.

Kvaratskhelia also laid on Tanguy Ndombele´s first Serie A goal in the 68th minute following great hold-up play from Osimhen as Napoli took another step towards a first league title since 1990 in front of an army of fans in Turin.

"No one deserves this more than the Napoli fans... I´m really happy to put a smile on their faces," Osimhen told DAZN.

It seems only a matter of time before Napoli seal a historic Scudetto, one which will follow a campaign of breathtaking football that has Osimhen convinced they can also win the Champions League.

Once Kvaratskhelia rolled in his 14th goal of the season, Torino offered up no resistance. They dropped down to 11th, level on 37 points with Bologna and ninth-placed Fiorentina, who won their seventh straight match in all competitions 1-0 over Lecce.

Lazio are Napoli´s closest challengers thanks to Mattia Zaccagni´s 65th-minute winner which ensured his team did the double over 10-man Roma.

A typically fiery derby clash was prefaced by tensions between supporters and police and a Lazio fan display quoting William Shakespeare´s play Henry V. But the on-pitch spectacle left a lot to be desired, especially after Roger Ibanez saw red in the 32nd minute for two daft tackles.

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