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Sunday June 23, 2024

Late Raspadori strike earns Napoli 2-1 home win over Juventus

By Reuters
March 05, 2024
FC Juventus Italian midfielder Manuel Locatelli (left) controls the ball during the Italian Serie A football match against SSC Napoli at the Diego-Armando-Maradona stadium in Naples, on March 3 2024. — AFP
FC Juventus' Italian midfielder Manuel Locatelli (left) controls the ball during the Italian Serie A football match against SSC Napoli at the Diego-Armando-Maradona stadium in Naples, on March 3 2024. — AFP

NAPLE: Substitute Giacomo Raspadori scored an 88th-minute winner as champions Napoli beat visitors Juventus 2-1 in Serie A on Sunday to secure their first back-to-back wins in five months and boost their slim hopes of a late charge into the top four.

Napoli moved up to seventh in the standings on 43 points, three points behind sixth-placed Atalanta, four adrift of AS Roma in fifth and eight behind fourth-placed Bologna. Juventus remained second with 57 points after 27 games as their cushion over third-placed AC Milan narrowed to a point. They are 12 points off leaders Inter Milan who host Genoa on Monday.

Napoli, who on Wednesday demolished Sassuolo 6-1 to celebrate their first win under new coach Francesco Calzona, won consecutive league games for the first time since they beat Udinese and Lecce in September.

“By winning this match the team gave a signal that it wants to reach important positions,” Calzona told a press conference. “Miracles cannot be achieved in 10 days, it would take time that we don’t have. I ask the boys to learn quickly, which they are doing and which I am very happy about even if by nature I am never happy.”

Dusan Vlahovic should have given Juventus an early lead from Federico Chiesa’s lofted pass across the face of the goal but the Serb’s header went narrowly wide.

The hosts, who had more than 70% possession throughout the game, responded with a golden chance in the 24th minute but Giovanni Di Lorenzo struck over the bar. Vlahovic then hit the far post after chipping Napoli keeper Alex Meret from a tight angle and Juve’s Wojciech Szczesny denied winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia following a solo run.

Kvaratskhelia eventually put Napoli in front three minutes before halftime with a powerful volley that beat Szczesny at his near post before Chiesa levelled for Juventus in the 81st minute, driving the ball low into the far corner from the edge of the box. Napoli won a penalty in the dying minutes when Victor Osimhen was taken down inside the area and Szczesny did well to deny the Nigerian striker from the spot.

However, Raspadori wrapped up the points for the hosts two minutes from time, firing home the rebound into the roof of the net from close range. “We are in line, indeed even above initial expectations,” said Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri.

“I would have signed to be second at this point (of the season). We have 10 points on fifth place which is Roma.” Napoli next host mid-table Torino on Friday while Juventus, who beat Frosinone 3-2 last weekend for their first Serie A win in five games, take on Atalanta next Sunday.