SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 28 - 17 Mar 2019 (17.00 UK)
Napoli 4 - 2 Udinese
Younes 17 (N), Callejon 26 (N), Lasagna 30 (U), Fofana 36 (U), Milik 57 (N), Mertens 69 (N)
Stadio San Paolo

Napoli escaped two scares to beat Udinese 4-2, as they fumbled a 2-0 lead and saw David Ospina stretchered off after a head injury.

There had already been some strange results this weekend, including leaders Juventus losing their unbeaten record at Genoa, with Roma, Fiorentina and Torino beaten by relegation candidates. However, Carlo Ancelotti missed Lorenzo Insigne, Raul Albiol, Vlad Chiriches, Amadou Diawara and flu-ridden Fabian Ruiz, so Amin Younes got a rare chance. The Friulani had to do without Bram Nuytinck, Emmanuel Badu, Samir, Marco D’Alessandro, Antonin Barak and Lukasz Teodorczyk, plus Nicolas Opoku suspended, Stefano Okaka and Sebastien De Maio not fully fit, so Rolando Mandragora dropped into defence.

It was a rough start to the game, as David Ospina bravely rushed out to smother a Kevin Lasagna low cross at the feet of Ignacio Pussetto and they collided heavily, the goalkeeper coming off worse with a nasty cut to his forehead.

Piotr Zielinski was booked and will be suspended against Roma after the break for international duty. Arkadiusz Milik’s knockdown from a corner found Kalidou Koulibaly only for the defender to fire straight at Juan Musso.

However, Younes got his maiden Serie A goal with a finish eerily reminiscent of Insigne, a right-foot curler from the edge of the box into the far bottom corner that gave Musso no chance. Incredibly, it was the Germany international’s first ever Serie A shot on goal and Dries Mertens had provided the assist.

Udinese nearly equalised within 60 seconds, Pussetto breaking away from Koulibaly and a desperate Nikola Maksimovic block preventing the angled drive arrowing into the far bottom corner.

However, Napoli doubled their advantage, as Mertens sprung the offside trap and rolled across the six-yard box for Jose Callejon to bundle rather clumsily over the line.

Udinese got back into it with Lasagna, who made the diagonal run on to a Seko Fofana through ball and scuffed the finish so it rolled into the far bottom corner with Ospina getting down very slowly.

Pussetto threatened to make it 2-2 moments later, blasting over from 12 yards relatively undisturbed. Napoli did not heed the warning, as a series of weak tackles from Younes, Allan and Zielinski culminated in Fofana firing in from 11 yards, completing the comeback from 2-0 in the space of six minutes.

There were frightening scenes just before half-time, as Ospina never quite looked right after that knock to the head and he suddenly crumpled to the ground barely conscious. Ambulance crews rushed over and he seemed to raise his arm to wave at the crowd when stretchered away, but it suggests the head injury was not taken seriously enough. The Colombia international was taken straight to the local hospital for tests.

Napoli restored their lead from a Callejon corner, finding Arkadiusz Milik for a powerful diving header, getting around Mandragora.

Mertens hadn’t scored a goal yet in 2019, but he moved to a wider right role and used it to cut inside, curling left-footed into the far bottom corner.

Milik’s glancing header flashed wide and Pussetto fired over after a strong Rodrigo De Paul run and assist. Zielinski put the ball into the net from a tight angle in stoppages, but only after he had wandered offside.

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Napoli: Ospina (Meret 45); Malcuit (Hysaj 86), Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Callejon, Allan, Zielinski, Younes (Verdi 56); Mertens, Milik
Udinese: Musso; Troost-Ekong, Mandragora, Ter Avest (De Maio 68); Stryger-Larsen (Okaka 86), Fofana, Sandro (Ingelsson 64), De Paul, Zeegelaar; Pussetto, Lasagna
Ref: Valeri