The captain scores in added time in the first half, the Nigerian scores his 13th league goal at the start of the second half. Now the Azzurri are +12 on Milan
January 21 – SALERNO
Mid-season is enough to rewrite history: it’s a record-breaking Napoli, like never before in Serie A. The victory in Salerno (2-0, goals from Di Lorenzo and Osimhen) allows Spalletti’s team to score 50 points at the end of the first round, canceling the previous record of Napoli di Sarri in 2017-18 (48 points). Yet another message to the pursuers, who will have to win them all to hope for the title and that won’t necessarily be enough. Napoli impresses with safety, compactness and dangerousness, and the transformation of Osimhen from an excellent center forward to a lethal weapon has put Napoli on pole for the title for months. The advantage over Milan rises to +12, one point behind is Inter: if Milan doesn’t respond, it will already be a definitive escape.
Nicola redesigns his Salernitana for the “debut-bis”: 4-5-1, with Nicolussi Caviglia in front of the defense to obstruct the blue passing lines. In Naples, which proposes Elmas again for Kvaratskhelia (influenza), Lozano is back in the offensive trident. The theme of the match is immediately clear: Salernitana crushed and attentive, Napoli master of the dribble, hunting for a pocket. But overcoming the grenade wall immediately appears complex and the leaders struggle to make themselves dangerous. He succeeds in the 20th minute with Osimhen, good at turning in the scrum from a corner action, but Ochoa’s reflex nullifies the Nigerian’s leap. Two minutes later, Salernitana’s response: Piatek goes away in a solitary restart, points and jumps Di Lorenzo and commits Meret for the first time (even the only one in the first 45 ‘). Salernitana had lost Gyomber after 15’ (muscle trouble), but not the defensive spirit and Lovato managed to limit Osimhen physically. Napoli are good at not getting nervous, despite the difficulties in attacking Ochoa’s goal. And in the last second of added time, he passes: Anguisa exchanges with Mario Rui and reaches the back, Di Lorenzo arrives on a low cross and blocks and strikes Ochoa with his right foot for the blue advantage.
Di Lorenzo’s goal allows Napoli to come back in the second half with a freer head and in the first lunge the leaders double with top scorer Victor Osimhen, quick to put in a clear from the post after a good shot by Elmas. For Osi it is the eleventh center in ten Serie A matches: if the primacy needed a face, the Nigerian’s mask would be printed in maxi format. For Victor eleven goals in the last ten games and 13 in fifteen total appearances: a force of nature, the real plus weapon of the blue collective. And Osi immediately came close to doubling his header, calling Ochoa to yet another decisive reflex on a close header.
The double advantage does not change the score: Napoli under management, which from time to time attempts a lunge, Salernitana holed up, incapable of high aggression to try to quickly reverse the action. The very occasion to reopen the match arrives anyway, almost occasionally: Di Lorenzo and Lobotka screw up, the 99 grenade fires powerfully, Meret puts on the glove and sends it to the post. Masterpiece of the blue goalkeeper, often criticized but this year in extraordinary conditions. It is the exclamation point on the match: the Salernitana fans contest the grenade at the end of the match, those of Napoli, on the other hand, are not there. No “league leader leaves” this time, but it’s a musical detail. The ranking speaks (or sings) by itself.
January 21, 2023 (change January 21, 2023 | 20:11)
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