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Saturday June 22, 2024

Super-sub Simeone continues Napoli’s title march

By AFP
January 31, 2023

MILAN: Giovanni Simeone ensured Napoli continued their march towards a first Serie A title in over three decades with the decisive goal in a 2-1 win over Roma which pushed his team 13 points clear of the chasing pack.

Substitute Simeone rifled home a wonderful finish at the end of a long passing move with four minutes remaining at the bouncing Stadio Maradona to see off a spirited Roma team who thought they had escaped with a point when Stephan El Shaarawy levelled in the 75th minute.

However Luciano Spalletti’s side are now 13 points clear of Inter Milan, the closest challengers after champions AC Milan were humbled 5-2 by Sassuolo to leave their title defence in tatters. Home fans hoping for an end to their 33-year wait for the Scudetto let out a powerful roar of joy and relief at the final whistle after coming through a hard-fought contest with fierce rivals Roma thanks to Simeone’s fifth goal after coming off the bench this season.

“I tried to give everything I had. I did the best thing possible today which was get the winner. I am so happy,” said Simeone.

Roma can consider themselves unfortunate to leave Naples with nothing after impressing despite the backroom drama involving want-away star Nicolo Zaniolo poisoning their pre-match preparation.

Jose Mourinho’s team sit sixth, a point behind the Champions League positions and Milan who have been dumped down to fifth following their humiliating defeat and Lazio’s 1-1 draw with Fiorentina.

“There are some matches where you lose but come away feeling better about the team. That’s my feeling today,” said Mourinho to DAZN. “Sometimes football is unfair. Sometimes the team who deserves more loses.”

Victor Osimhen was Napoli’s other scorer, almost bringing the house down in the 17th minute when he brilliantly chested down Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s cross, took another touch with his thigh before lashing in without the ball touching the floor.