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Wednesday May 29, 2024

Napoli’s top-four hopes hang in the balance after Frosinone draw

By Reuters
April 15, 2024
Napolis striker Victor Osimhen. — AFP/File
Napoli's striker Victor Osimhen. — AFP/File

NAPOLI: Napoli’s aspirations for a top-four finish in Serie A were dealt a blow on Sunday when they were held to a 2-2 draw at home by relegation-threatened Frosinone.

Napoli are now eighth with 49 points, putting them 10 points behind Bologna in the fourth, and last, secure Champions League spot with six rounds left. Frosinone are in 18th -- a relegation spot -- with 27 points.

Coach Francesco Calzona admitted that it would be difficult for Napoli to get a place in the Champions League next season, even if Serie A secured a fifth spot in the competition.

Both AS Roma and Atalanta are ahead of them in the table, having played fewer games. “We had to win this game to remain in the race,” Calzona told DAZN. “We are dangerous when we have possession; the problem is in defence, as we are too fragile.

“We’ve been working on this for two weeks. Evidently, it’s not enough. Frosinone have scored many goals this season, they create a lot.” The hosts relentlessly bombarded the Frosinone goal until Matteo Politano’s 16th-minute curler from the edge of the box secured the lead for Napoli.

Minutes later, Victor Osimhen had the chance to double Napoli’s lead as he sprinted free towards the goal, but his shot went just wide. Frosinone were awarded a penalty at the half-hour mark after Amir Rrahmani tackled Walid Cheddira but Matias Soule’s attempt was saved.

The visitors grew more active under the warm Naples sun, mustering several attempts on goal, but Napoli keeper Alex Meret remained in control until the break. Five minutes into the second half, Frosinone equalised through Cheddira after Meret’s half-hearted clearance bounced off Soule, setting up an easy finish into the empty net.

Napoli regained the lead in the 63rd minute when a deflected strike from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia was tapped in by Osimhen near the goal line, but Cheddira secured his brace with a header in the 73rd to share the spoils between the two teams.

Mario Rui capped a lacklustre day for Napoli by being sent off deep into stoppage time after receiving his second yellow card for a foul on the counter-attacking Demba Seck. The packed Stadio Diego Armando Maradona erupted in boos directed at the Napoli players as the whistle blew. “It would have given us enthusiasm. I am sorry. The stadium was sold out and people were supporting us. I am sorry for them, too,” Calzona said.