Napoli move to within four points of Juventus with Udinese win
Udinese 0 - 3 Napoli

Napoli move to within four points of Juventus with Udinese win

21/10/2018

Fabian Ruiz and Marko Rog came off the bench to score around Dries Mertens’ penalty, as Napoli dominated Udinese 3-0 and moved to within four points of Juventus.

The Partenopei continued to revamp their starting XI, as Lorenzo Insigne, Adam Ounas, Amin Younes, Sebastiano Luperto, Faouzi Ghoulam and Vlad Chiriches missed out, so there was a new partnership of Arkadiusz Milik and Dries Mertens. The Friulani had lost four on the bounce and were forced to do without Emmanuel Badu, Svante Ingelsson, Giuseppe Pezzella and Darwin Machis.

It was the worst possible start for the visitors, as Simone Verdi immediately limped off with a muscular problem and had to be replaced by Fabian Ruiz.

Jose Callejon blasted over after a terrible Simone Scuffet pass out of defence, but Napoli took the lead with the man who had to come on with no warm-up. Fabian caught Seko Fofana in possession and curled a right-foot stunner into the far top corner from the edge of the box, a fine way to score his first Serie A goal.

Kevin Lasagna thought he’d equalised when pouncing on a poor Raul Albiol error, but former Udinese goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis denied him with a low save on the powerful angled drive.

Piotr Zielinski didn’t make the most of his give-and-go with Allan, then Lasagna threatened again from a tricky angle, while Mertens skipped between two defenders to curl just past the far top corner.

Udinese also made a change, although this one appeared to be tactical. Arkadiusz Milik ran a risk on 37 minutes when he was booked for a two-footed tackle on Rodrigo De Paul and the referee viewed it again on VAR, but decided a yellow was sufficient.

Karnezis was fortunate not to concede the equaliser on the stroke of half-time, as Ignacio Pussetto first couldn’t control with his chest, then fell and tried to prod it towards goal from point-blank range, but scuffed it, allowing the goalkeeper to flap away the ball.

Lasagna had a similar issue, as his first attempt from five yards was deflected and Karnezis bravely smothered the rebound at his feet.

Kalidou Koulibaly timed his tackle perfectly to stop Lasagna making the most of a De Paul assist, but complacent Napoli were almost gifted a second by Samir. The defender seemed very confused when making an unnecessary interception on Piotr Zielinski’s cross and somehow firing it on to the upright from five yards under no pressure.

Pussetto performed a goal-line clearance on Zielinski, but Callejon had already wandered offside in the build-up.

Napoli were awarded a penalty for Opoku’s clumsy handling offence to charge down a Callejon shot and after a long wait for VAR checks on a possible offside position, Mertens confidently converted to double their lead.

Marko Rog came off the bench and within a minute had made it 3-0, his strike deflected into the near bottom corner past Scuffet’s fingertips.

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