Napoli beat Spezia 3-0 to go 16 points clear at the top of Serie A.
Luciano Spalletti’s side dominated the first half with 77% possession and piled up seven shots to Spezia’s three, but were largely kept at arm’s length.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia thought he’d won a penalty after 30 minutes, but the eagle-eyed referee awarded a free kick just outside the area.
The visitors were going in search of a fifth consecutive league win, but the hosts were not making it easy.
Just 10 seconds into the second half though, Arkadiusz Reca handled in his own box to gift Kvaratskhelia a spot-kick. The Georgian winger converted confidently to give Napoli the lead.
Victor Osimhen seemed to have doubled Napoli’s lead on the hour mark, but his excellent ‘goal’ was rather harshly ruled out for a foul on Spezia defender Mattia Caldara in the build-up.
However, 10 minutes later the Nigerian got his goal when he outjumped everyone – including goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski – to head home his fifth goal in as many games.
Another gift came Napoli’s way just five minutes later when Kvaratskhelia caught Caldara in possession on the edge of his box and rolled the ball to the unmarked Osimhen who made it 3-0.
Talking point – Napoli champions elect?
An 18th win from 21 league matches takes Napoli a frankly ridiculous 16 points clear atop Serie A. It was not an overly impressive display from the visitors, but it was one in which they refused to panic when they failed to break through.
Then, when the chances came, they took them.
Victor Osimhen was able to not only score the goals, but also constantly threaten Spezia’s defence and prevent them from committing numbers forward.
Spalletti’s side look so much stronger and more effective than any of their so-called title rivals and are surely now champions of Italy in all but name.
Player of the Match – Victor Osimhen
Serie A’s leading scorer scored twice against Spezia, taking the chances that fell to him well. He probably should have had a hat-trick with his most impressive ‘goal’ of the day ruled out for what appeared a soft foul against the defender.
Goals are a striker’s key contribution, but those aside he was still very impressive.
Osimhen’s willingness to both chase every ball in behind, and drop off to help press in midfield makes Napoli a suffocating side to play against.
The Nigerian is doing as much as anyone to lead Napoli to their vaunted position at the top of the league.
Spezia: Dragowski 5, Ampadu 5, Bourabia 6, Verde 7, Reca 6, Shomurodov 5, Esposito 6, Amian 6, Caldara 7, Agudelo 7, Nikolaou 7. Subs: Maldini N/A, Wisniewski N/A, Krollis N/A, Cipot N/A, Holm N/A.
Napoli: Meret 6, Di Lorenzo 7, Rrahmani 6, Minjae 6, Mario Rui 7, Anguissa 6, Lobotka 6, Zielinski 6, Lozano 6, Osimhen 8, Kvaratskhelia 8. Subs: Olivera N/A, Elmas 6, Ndombele 6, Politano 7, Simeone N/A.
12′ OSIMHEN TESTS DRAGOWSKI – Napoli go vertical and Osimhen runs onto the ball, driving into the box before shooting straight into Dragowski. He’s called offside, but replays show he probably wasn’t.
37′ NAPOLI KEEP COMING – Kvaratskhelia dances through the Spezia defence and whips a shot towards the bottom corner, but it’s just wide of the upright.
46′ PENALTY NAPOLI -10 seconds into the second half and a penalty is awarded for a handball by Arkadiusz Reca.
47′ GOAL NAPOLI – Khvicha Kvaratskhelia converts the spot-kick, beating the diving Dragowski.
59′ VERDE CLOSE TO A WORLDIE – The Spezia number ten chops inside and out to find space in the box and launches a curling shot but it beats the upright and is out for a goal kick.
61 ‘OSIMHEN HAS IT IN THE NET… – The Napoli striker does brilliantly to beat his man and then the Spezia goalkeeper, but the goal is ruled out for a foul on Caldara. Tough call.
68′ GOAL NAPOLI – Victor Osimhen outjumps everyone to head home Napoli’s second goal. That one counts.
73′ GOAL NAPOLI – Kvaratskhelia catches Caldara in possession on the edge of the box and unselfishly rolls it to the unmarked Osimhen who scores.
Spezia: 0 – The home side failed to get a single shot on target in 90 minutes against a Napoli side playing well below their best. You can’t win games if you don’t test the keeper!
Napoli: 35 – The visitors won back possession an impressive 35 times against Spezia. It’s important to add the context that Napoli also had more than 65% of the ball. They took back possession once every 57 seconds on average. Highly impressive.
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