Forza Juve. Oh, what a match. Napoli can cry no more. The match that was appealed a few times is finally over. A resounding win for the Old lady. 2-1 victory at the Allianz Stadium, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala's goals on his triumphant return.
This Week 3 fixture was originally scheduled for October 4, but the Partenopei were ordered not to travel due to COVID cases. At first, they have docked a point and given an automatic 3-0 defeat, though the decision was overturned on appeal. By the time it came around, both teams were locked together in joint fourth place.
Leonardo Bonucci and Federico Bernardeschi missed out with COVID-19, but Merih Demiral recovered for a spot on the bench. Weston McKennie, Paulo Dybala, and Arthur were also back after being dropped for breaking lockdown rules with a party at the American’s house. Napoli missed only Faouzi Ghoulam, as Kalidou Koulibaly returned from suspension.
Cristiano Ronaldo should’ve opened the scoring in the opening two minutes, but he incredibly only glanced the ball from six yards when allowed a free header on Danilo’s cross from the right.
Piotr Zielinski also wasted a big chance by firing over, but Ronaldo made up for it with the opening goal. Most of the credit goes to Federico Chiesa, who twisted and turned between two defenders down the right with a mazy run and rolled across for the simple finish from 12 yards.
Fabian Ruiz ballooned over from a very promising position, while Juve had penalty appeals for Chucky Lozano wiping out Chiesa at the by-line, but the contact occurred only after he had passed the ball and was practically off the field.
Juan Cuadrado went on a slalom through the Napoli defense too, his shot plucked out from under the bar by Alex Meret, and Lorenzo Insigne fired just over.
Chiesa wasted a promising opportunity by ballooning over the bar, but Napoli had penalty appeals rejected for a fairly evident Alex Sandro trip on Zielinski. Again, the referee and VAR waved play on.
After the restart, Gigi Buffon had his gloves stung by Giovanni Di Lorenzo, who was in acres of space down the right from an Insigne pass.
Cuadrado fired off target after an Alvaro Morata counter, but Napoli went all-in with Victor Osimhen and Matteo Politano, pushing Zielinski into midfield and Mertens a trequartista role.
Osimhen immediately saw his strike deflected wide, then Insigne dribbled past Matthijs de Ligt to force Buffon into a desperate save with his feet at the near post.
Buffon was called into action again, beating away a Fabian Ruiz snapshot from outside the area. However, against the run of play, Dybala made his comeback with a bang. He gathered from Rodrigo Bentancur just inside the box, turned and a left-foot shot was remote-controlled into the far bottom corner.
Napoli did finally get a penalty when Giorgio Chiellini brought down Osimhen and Insigne converted by sending Buffon the wrong way. It was his second consecutive spot-kick against Juve, having missed the first three.
The Partenopei pushed to the very end, De Ligt making a decisive block on Osimhen’s turn and strike.