SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 25 - 21 Feb 2020 (19.45 UK)
1 - 2 Napoli
Chancellor 27 (B), Insigne pen 49 (N), Fabian Ruiz 54 (N)
Stadio Mario Rigamonti

Napoli completed the second-half comeback from a Jhon Chancellor opener to beat Brescia 2-1 with Lorenzo Insigne’s penalty and a Fabian Ruiz stunner.

Matteo Politano stepped in and Lorenzo Insigne returned from a knee issue, but Kalidou Koulibaly, Fernando Llorente, Amin Younes and Kevin Malcuit missed out. There was some minor squad rotation just days before the Champions League showdown with Barcelona. Brescia had Florian Aye suspended, with Ernesto Torregrossa, Andrea Cistana, Romulo and Enrico Alfonso injured, but Jesse Joronen and Sandro Tonali were available again for a side stuck in the relegation zone with only two points from seven games in 2020.

Within 90 seconds, Dries Mertens had clipped the top of the bar with a cross-shot from the tightest of angles. It would’ve been a spectacular way of equalling Marek Hamsik’s all-time record of 121 goals in the Napoli jersey.

Fabian Ruiz curled just over the frame of the goal, while Mertens scuffed a difficult volley into the arms of Joronen on a long Insigne ball.

Napoli completely dominated possession, but it was Brescia who scored with their first chance of the game. Sandro Tonali’s corner to the near post found defender Jhon Chancellor for a free header from six yards.

Diego Lopez was the third different coach on the Rondinelle bench this season and had clearly drilled more defensive focus into his players.

Mario Balotelli turned another header from a corner wide on the stroke of half-time.

Straight after the restart, Ales Mateju charged down an Insigne cross-shot with his forearm inside the penalty area. Although the arm was not too far raised, he did move it towards the ball, so a spot-kick was awarded after the VAR on-field review. Insigne converted successfully, rolling it into the near bottom corner and sending Joronen the wrong way.

Brescia remained dangerous on the counter, Jaromir Zmrhal nodding over from Birkir Bjarnason’s assist, but it was Napoli who turned the game around with a moment of magic.

Fabian Ruiz gathered on the edge of the box and curled an unstoppable left-foot strike into the far top corner, giving the goalkeeper no chance.

The Spanish midfielder attempted a direct replay just five minutes later, but this time Joronen was able to get his hands to it.

Mertens put the ball in the back of the net with an angled drive, but he was flagged offside and so the record still had to wait. The Belgian was then booked as he made way for Arkadiusz Milik, as he forgot the rule ordering players to leave the field from the closest touchline.

Insigne’s trivela cross was fingertipped off the head of Politano, while Chancellor only skimmed what would’ve been another free header on Tonali’s free kick.

Brescia really should’ve equalised on 72 minutes, but Balotelli at full stretch turned over the bar from six yards on Simon Skrabb’s cross.

The Rondinelle continued to push until the final whistle, as Napoli scrapped to defend their slender lead.

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: Joronen; Sabelli, Mateju, Chancellor, Martella; Bisoli, Tonali, Bjarnason (Skrabb 65); Zmrhal, Dessena (Ndoj 85); Balotelli
Napoli: Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Maksimovic, Mario Rui; Fabian Ruiz, Demme (Allan 85), Elmas (Zielinski 76); Politano, Mertens (Milik 67), Insigne
Ref: Orsato