Napoli’s dreams of a first Serie A title since the days of Diego Maradona are more alive than ever after thrashing Juventus 5-1 on Friday and moving 10 points clear at the summit.
Luciano Spalletti’s free-flowing team once again thrilled with a statement performance against their old rivals to stamp their authority on a title race which is increasingly looking like a one-team affair.
Victor Osimhen took his league tally for the season to 12 with a goal in each half while Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Amir Rrahmani and Eljif Elmas netted the hosts’ other goals to extend their advantage on both Juve and AC Milan.
Champions Milan can cut the gap back to seven points with a win at Lecce on Saturday but the way Napoli dealt with Juve was the latest signal that southern Italy’s biggest club are the real deal and ready to end a 33-year wait for a league crown.
Kvaratskhelia and Osimhen were devastating in attack, with the pair setting up each other’s goals and causing havoc more or less from the first whistle against a team who before Friday had only conceded seven league goals in 17 matches.
“It was a brilliant night,” said Osimhen to DAZN.
“I’m happy for the team and I’m happy as well to contribute to it with two goals and an assist. We want to keep this momentum.
“The road is still long, we just want to continue to win our games… at the end of the season I think we have a good chance.”
Juve had come into the match at a packed Stadio Maradona on a run of eight straight wins in which they hadn’t conceded, making them title contenders despite a dismal start to the season.
Instead Massimiliano Allegri’s team left Naples with their tails between their legs after conceding five goals in a Serie A match for the first time since May 1993.
“When you make errors like we did against a team like Napoli, you are going to be punished. They are the league leaders and deserve to be where they are,” said Allegri.
Napoli got stuck into Juventus right from the off, pressing high up the pitch and stopping the away side from building any play.
Osimhen couldn’t quite get on the end of Kim Min-Jae’s long ball in the 12th minute but the Nigeria international was not to be denied and two minutes later gave the hosts a deserved lead.
Matteo Politano’s cross found its way to Kvaratskhelia, whose acrobatic volley was brilliantly saved by Wojciech Szczesny but then fell right to Osimhen who nodded in from close range.
Juve looked like they were about to be blown away but to their credit responded to the initial bombardment and got a foothold in the game.
The Maradona had its collective heart in its mouth in the 21st minute when Angel Di Maria gobbled up a dreadful Rrahmani pass and let rip with a distance effort that skimmed off the top of the bar.
Arkadiusz Milik and Bremer both went close with headers but with Juve apparently in the ascendency Kvaratskhelia rolled Napoli two ahead in the 39th minute after Bremer bungled a high ball and Osimhen turned provider for the Georgian wing wizard.
Juve pulled one back almost immediately through their best player Di Maria, whose precision low finish punished panicky Napoli defending.
And Napoli had Alex Meret to thank for their half-time lead after the Italian tipped away Rrahmani’s odd attempt at clearing Federico Chiesa’s inswinging cross.
Rrahmani made up for his rather shaky first-half display nine minutes after the break with a blockbuster first-time finish from Kvaratskhelia’s corner, and from that moment on it was party time for Napoli.
Kvaratskhelia crowned his majestic display in the 65th minute with a perfect cross from which Osimhen headed home Napoli’s fourth and seven minutes later substitute Elmas put the cherry on the cake with his fifth of the season, deflected past Szczesny by Alex Sandro.
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