Napoli looked to extend their lead at the top of Serie A on Friday night, as they travelled to Lecce’s Via Del Mare. With the end of the season looming ever closer, i Partinopei hoped to edge ever closer to their impending Scudetto win.
LEC: Falcone; Gallo, Umtiti, Baschirotto, Gendrey; Maleh, Hjulmand, Gonzalez; Di Francesco, Ceesay, Oudin
NAP: Meret; Rui, Kim Min-Jae, Rrahmani, Di Lorenzo; Elmas, Lobotka, Z. Anguissa; Kvaratskhelia, Raspadori, Lozano
After gli Azzurri were thumped 4-0 by reigning champions AC Milan on Sunday, the Scudetto favorites headed into this game with a big opportunity for redemption – though they are comfortably clear at the top of the table. In contrast, their hosts lost in Empoli last time out – bringing them onto five consecutive defeats. However, Lecce did manage to earn a point in the return fixture against Napoli earlier this season.
It was a really equal match in the first half, as Lecce started well and surprised Napoli with a couple of good chances from both Maleh and Umtiti but the hosts weren’t able to take the lead. Napoli fixed up well, and Giovanni Di Lorenzo headed a lovely cross from Kim Min-jae past Falcone to score the opener.
There were no half-time substitutions for either side. Oudin had the first chance for Lecce in the 46th minute, but Meret caught it perfectly. Desperate to extend their buffer, Kvaratskhelia could have doubled Napoli’s advantage just a minute later but the Georgian squandered the chance.
Surprisingly, Lecce found the equaliser after Federico Di Francesco capitalised on Napoli’s poor clearance of a set piece – slotting the ball past Meret into the bottom corner. Lecce played with a newly discovered confidence after that goal and looked to bag the second, but their attempts could not be transformed into goals.
Napoli returned to the lead twelve minutes later, after an own goal by Antonino Gallo. Good play on the left side of the field by the visitors resulted in a cross from Mario Rui – and Gallo tried to give the ball to his goalkeeper using his chest, but the ball slid past Falcone and trickled over the line. That was the final nail in the coffin for Lecce, who had been competing well until that point.
Napoli’s attention will now turn to Wednesday’s trip to the San Siro – as they look to seek revenge against AC Milan following their recent loss to the historic giants. The Milanese side sit third in Serie A, 22 points behind the leaders.
For Lecce, they prepare to welcome Sampdoria to Via Del Mare next Sunday. That game could be crucial to the relegation fight, as 16th-placed Lecce look to end their 7-game losing streak against their 19th-placed opposition.