Arkadiusz Milik was Napoli’s last-minute man once again to end Cagliari’s unbeaten home record, this time curling in a sensational free kick.
The Partenopei needed a victory to keep the gap at the top to eight points and prevent Inter closing in, as both they and Juventus won on Saturday. With the fatigue from the midweek Champions League exit to Liverpool, Carlo Ancelotti rested Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, Marek Hamsik and Jose Callejon, while Faouzi Ghoulam came in for injured Mario Rui. Cagliari had Darijo Srna and Luca Ceppitelli suspended after a fiery 2-2 draw with Roma, plus Leonardo Pavoletti and Lucas Castro injured.
The Sardinians had been unbeaten at home this season, but have now lost their last four Serie A games against Napoli here.
Cagliari had the first real chance, as Adam Ounas was caught in possession, so Nikola Maksimovic threw himself at Diego Farias to deflect the shot, which turned into an assist for Paolo Faragò to sting David Ospina’s gloves.
Napoli were toothless in attack, the only half-chances created by Ounas runs to the by-line to pull back, where Cagliari regularly intercepted. On one such move, Ghoulam tried to curl in directly from the corner kick, only finding the roof of the net.
Joao Pedro put a perfect cross in from the left for Farias, who was just too soft going into the volley and prodded it at Ospina from six yards. He had also wandered offside.
There was a chance straight out of the gates for the second half. Fabian Ruiz combined with Milik, then pulled back from the by-line for a decisive Filippo Romagna block. Moments later, Malcuit got down the right too and rolled across for Fabian to side-foot wide.
Milik really should’ve done better after great work from Ounas and Piotr Zielinski, but the Pole blasted wide of the near post.
Alessio Cragno had hard work on several Ghoulam corners, then had his gloves stung by Milik from distance.
Cagliari were still in it too, Farias wasteful with a free header off target, but Napoli were stepping up the pressure.
On 68 minutes Milik’s header from a Dries Mertens cross hit the underside of the crossbar, bounced off the ground and back out again. Cragno scrambled to prevent Kalidou Koulibaly finishing off the rebound.
The final stages were tense, as Napoli poured forward and several Cagliari players collapsed with cramp, leading to seven minutes of stoppages.
Once again, Arkadiusz Milik came up trumps in stoppages with a sensational free kick curled over the wall and under the bar at the near top corner. Everyone was waiting for Lorenzo Insigne to take the set play, but instead Milik showed hitherto unknown skills from the set play.
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