Juventus 2-1 Napoli
A goal in each half scored by Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala earned Juventus a priceless victory tonight at the Allianz Arena over the in-form Napoli.
Serie A Juventus vs Napoli was a battle for the fourth Champions League place in the league table as the two teams started the game tied on 56 points, and it was the Old Lady who took advantage, moving into third place ahead of Atalanta.
There is room for both Juve and Napoli in the top four places if the Azzurri recover quickly and pick up their form again. While Inter Milan are far and away in front in their quest for the Scudetto, AC Milan, on 60 points, are still in the mix, so there is plenty to play for with nine games remaining.
The pre-match Juventus vs Napoli betting odds backed a Bianconeri win at odds of 1.97 here at SBOTOP, and from the time Ronaldo gave them an early lead the visitors were always playing catch up. They stayed in the game until Dybala struck late on, though Lorenzo Insigne gave Napoli brief hope with a last-minute penalty.
Highlights of the game
The Old Lady looked very sprightly in the opening exchanges, with Ronaldo heading an inviting cross from Danilo just wide. Federico Chiesa had a shot charged down and Adrien Rabiot met a corner from Juan Cuadrado but planted his header just wide.
But the early pressure paid off and Juve were ahead on 13 minutes when Ronaldo found space in the middle of the penalty area and fired a sweet right-foot shot home.
Piotr Zielinski fired one over for Napoli and Fabian Ruiz had a shot blocked. But Kalidou Koulibaly’s frustration got the better of him when he was booked for a crude foul on Rodrigo Bentancur.
The Azzurri continued to probe and Hirving Lozano teed up Zielinski but the Juve defence held firm to block.
After Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne had fired a long-range effort inches high, the Bianconeri finished the half the stronger with Cuadrado and Chiesa both coming close to doubling Juve’s lead.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo had Napoli’s best effort of the game so far, minutes into the second half, when he collected a pass from Insigne and fired low towards the bottom corner, but Juve’s legendary keeper Gigi Buffon got down well to save.
And at the other end, Chiesa came close again with a header from a Cuadrado cross, but Napoli continued their efforts to try to get back in the game. Insigne came close with an effort from just inside the penalty area saved in the bottom corner and then Fabian Ruiz fired one in from distance which Buffon saved well.
But the goal didn’t come and, as Napoli committed more men forward, Juventus struck a devastating blow when Paulo Dybala picked his spot and slammed home the second.
There was a brief moment of hope for Napoli when Giorgio Chiellini fouled Victor Osimhen in the area and Insigne fired home his 15th goal of the season from the penalty spot, but that was on 90 minutes and Juve held firm in the five minutes of injury time.
Napoli came into the game on a great run of form, earning 16 points from the previous seven matches but Juventus bossed the first half with 54 per cent possession and eight shots to four, two to zero on target.
The Azzurri gave it a real go in the second half, eventually winning the shot count by 14 to 12 with four to three on target but they couldn’t get past Buffon until Insigne’s last gasp penalty.
As the Old Lady has already exited the 2021 Champions League she can concentrate entirely on domestic matters and the Juventus vs Napoli updates will have been anxiously followed by fans of Milan and Atalanta with the two Rome clubs, currently in sixth and seventh, surely taking an interest too.
On Sunday, I Bianconeri entertain mid-table Genoa who are well off the pace for a European punt and 10 points clear of the drop, but they will be keen to confirm their place in next season’s Serie A, so they aren’t yet packing for the summer holidays.
The following Saturday presents an entirely different proposition when Juventus has an away clash with Gian Piero Gasperini’s free-scoring Atalanta.
Napoli too are without European distractions, as one of the favourites to lift the Europa League the Azzurri stumbled in the Round of 32, going out to an aggregate 3-2 defeat against La Liga’s Granada.
Gennaro Gattuso’s team also have a couple of big games ahead as they attempt to keep their top-four push on track. This weekend they are away to 10th-placed Sampdoria before preparing for the visit of champions-elect Inter Milan the following Sunday.
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