NAPLES: Two of Napoli’s most influential players combined for what could be their most crucial win in this campaign. They also brought Juventus’ revival to a juddering — and humiliating — halt.
Victor Osimhen scored twice and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia once, while also setting up each other’s goals, to help Serie A leader Napoli crush second-placed Juventus 5-1 on Friday and open up a 10-point lead.
Angel Di María halved the deficit for Juventus shortly before halftime but Napoli ran away with it after the break with goals from Amir Rrahmani and Elif Elmas on either side of Osimhen’s second.
It was the first time in nearly 30 years that Juventus conceded five goals in a league match.
“Congratulations to the team. Big game, big team, big respect to Juventus for the fight,” said Osimhen, who took his tally to 12 goals in 14 league matches this season. “We needed this more and I’m happy about the result.
“We gave a lot for the game, we needed the three points. I’m happy for the team, and I’m happy as well to contribute with two goals and an assist. We want to keep on building on this momentum.”
Defending champion AC Milan can trim the gap to Napoli back to seven points with a win at Lecce on Saturday.
But the result will instil a real sense of belief that Napoli can end its lengthy wait for the league title — since Diego Maradona led the Partenopei to their only two league titles in 1987 and 1990.
“The road is still long, we just want to continue to win our games, we care less about other teams,” Osimhen added. “We want to continue to do well, carry out the coach’s instructions and keep on getting the points.
“And of course at the end of the season I think we have a good chance.”
There is a strong rivalry between Napoli and Juventus and the visitors from Turin were roundly jeered when they appeared.
Juventus was full of confidence after eight straight wins without conceding a goal and was also able to hand Federico Chiesa his first start since tearing his cruciate ligament more than a year ago.
However, Napoli took the lead in the 14th minute. Wojciech Szczęsny brilliantly parried an acrobatic shot from Kvaratskhelia but Osimhen headed in the rebound.
It was the first goal Juventus conceded in 770 minutes.
That eventually sparked Juventus into life and Di Maria hit the crossbar after rushing onto a wayward pass from Rrahmani.
Napoli doubled their lead in the 39th when Osimhen returned the favor for Kvaratskhelia, rolling across the area for his unmarked teammate to slot into the bottom right corner.
World Cup winner Di Maria pulled one back for Juventus three minutes before the break but that proved to be a false dawn for the Bianconeri.
Napoli extended its advantage 11 minutes after the restart when a corner came to Rrahmani in the middle of the area and he blasted it in.
Kvaratskhelia and Osimhen combined again in the 65th with the latter heading in a cross from the Georgia forward. And the humiliation was completed in the 72nd when Elmas’ effort was deflected past Szczęsny.
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