Napoli and Lazio were set to entertain football fans all over the world with their meeting in Round 24 of the Italian Serie A this Saturday. And if we take a look at the score and how the game unfolded, we can say fans were not disappointed about the final result. Lazio grabbed control early on, but Napoli equalised before the break and sealed the deal in the second half with three goals to pull away for good. It was a convincing 4-1 win for Napoli, as they secured the top spot in the Serie A standings for, at least, one more week.
Rocky start for Napoli, but the game remains close at HT
Things were far from easy for the current Serie A leaders, though. They knew they needed to win to get back to the top spot in the standings following Juventus’ 2-0 win over Fiorentina on Friday, but things did not start as they would have liked. In fact, Lazio netted the first goal quite early in the first half. A pin-point cross from Ciro Immobile into the six-yard box couldn’t find Walace, but Stefan de Vrij came out of nowhere to tap the ball home from close range. Surprisingly, Lazio grabbed the lead within the first five minutes of the game.
Napoli did not rattle, though. The hosts quickly began to take control of the game, and their positive attitude allowed them to create scoring chances quite often. Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens were quite a problem for Lazio’s defensive line, and Insigne came quite close to equalise several times. The Italy international had at least two clear scoring chances, but both of his attempts went wide. Napoli were quite better though, but they lacked accuracy in the final meters to capitalise on their opportunities.
It seemed the first half was going to end with a one-goal lead for Lazio, but Jose Callejon had other plans. The Spanish winger took advantage of a lobbed pass from Jorginho, and he found himself all alone inside the box since most Lazio defenders believed the former Real Madrid star was offside. Callejon placed the ball coolly past Tomas Strakosha to make it 1-1 at the break, but it seemed the game could go either way.
Napoli’s dominant second-half effort gives them a huge win
The second half started with a lot of intensity. Napoli decided to give a bit more pace to their midfield zone and Piotr Zielinski replaced an incumbent Marek Hamsik. And although Zielinski wasn’t directly involved in the upcoming sequences, the move paid off big time since Napoli managed to turn things around with two quick goals early in the second half.
First, it was Walace who helped Napoli with an own goal. The Brazilian centre-back wanted to clear a low cross from Jorginho, but instead he placed the ball past Strakosha to make it 1-2 in the 54th minute. And before Lazio could settle they were down by two, as Mario Rui made it 3-1 with a low shot from outside the box. The Portuguese defender deserves credit for the goal, but Strakosha should have done a much better job in that sequence.
Lazio wanted to flip the script, and the manager sent Jordan Lukaku and Felipe Caicedo out there looking to freshen things up. The moves didn’t pay off, however, and Napoli continued to take advantage of the spaces they found in the final meters. Zielinski came close to score with a long-range shot that Strakosha parried well, but the Poland international would still make an impact. He found Mertens in the 73th minute, and the Belgian star blasted the ball past Strakosha. Game over as Napoli went up by three late in the second half.
The final minutes did not offer a whole lot of … anything, really. The game was over as soon as Napoli jumped ahead, and Lazio did not have enough weapons to turn things around. The win lifted Napoli to the top spot in the Serie A once again, as they maintained their one-point advantage over Juventus in the title race. As for Lazio, they need to improve soon because out of nowhere they fell into a three-game losing streak. If they don’t get back to the winning ways soon, they might be out of the UEFA Champions League qualifying zone in no time.
Napoli: Reina (6); Hysaj (5), Tonelli (6), Koulibaly (6), Mario Rui (7); Allan (6) (Rog (-), 81′), Jorginho (7), Hamsik (5) (Zielinski (7), 46′); Callejon (7) (Maggio (-), 85′), Mertens (7), Insigne (7)
Lazio: Strakosha (5); Walace (4), de Vrij (7), Radu (6); Marusic (5), Parolo (5), Lucas (6) (Nani (5), 67′), Milinkovic-Savic (6), Lulic (6) (Lukaku (5), 60′); Luis Alberto (6) (Caicedo (5), 61′), Immobile (7)
Goals: de Vrij (3′, 0-1), Callejon (43′, 1-1), Walace (2-1, OG, 54′), Mario Rui (3-1, 56′), Mertens (4-1, 73′)
Yellow Cards: Lucas, Milinkovic-Savic, de Vrij (LAZ)
Red Cards: None
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