Raspadori fires Napoli to win over Juve as Bologna’s dream continues

Napoli’s Georgian forward #77 Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (R) fights for the ball with Juventus’ Italian defender #27 Andrea Cambiaso and Juventus’ American midfielder #22Timothy Weah during the Italian Serie A football match SSC Napoli vs FC Juventus at the Diego-Armando-Maradona stadium in Naples, on March 3 2024. AFP

Giacomo Raspadori struck late to give Napoli a 2-1 win over unfortunate Juventus on Sunday, while Bologna’s Champions League dream continues after beating top-four rivals Atalanta 2-1.

Italy attacker Raspadori rammed home the winner on the rebound in the 88th minute after Wojciech Szczesny saved Victor Osimhen’s penalty as Napoli showed glimpses that a dreadful season as champions might be turning in the right direction.

Napoli looked like having to accept a draw from their lively display in the 81st minute when Federico Chiesa cancelled out Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s volleyed opener with a rifled finish of his own.

Francesco Calzona’s team are seventh, three points behind sixth-placed Atalanta who sit in the Europa Conference League spot following their loss earlier on Sunday.

Champions League football is still a big ask as Napoli are eight points away from the fourth position held by Bologna, but there has been a clear improvement under Calzona, who replaced Walter Mazzarri last month.

Renewed confidence at Napoli and, in particular, of star forward Kvaratskhelia also bodes well for the trip to Barcelona later this month when a spot in the Champions League quarter-finals will be up for grabs.

Juventus, who were without a host of players including injured key midfielders Adrien Rabiot and Weston McKennie, have given Inter Milan another chance to extend their massive league lead against Genoa on Monday night.

Massimiliano Allegri’s Juve trail champions-elect Inter by 12 points and second place is far from secure with AC Milan breathing down their necks, just a single point back in third.

Defeat was harsh for Juve who not only fought back from going a goal down but had a host of chances, Dusan Vlahovic hitting the post and then wasting another great opportunity on the stroke of half-time with his team trailing.

Bologna dreaming

Bologna’s Joshua Zirkzee celebrated his first Netherlands call-up by levelling Ademola Lookman’s first-half opener with a penalty in the 57th minute before Lewis Ferguson won the match with a beautiful volley four minutes later.

A sixth straight win put daylight between Thiago Motta’s Bologna and the rest of Italy’s bidders for next season’s revamped version of Europe’s top club competition.

Surprising Bologna are four points ahead of fellow in-form outfit Roma who are fifth following their 4-1 thumping of Monza on Saturday.

“I looked up at the ball as it came past Joshua and the only thing I thought was ‘shoot’,” said Ferguson to DAZN of his fine winner.

Bologna are seven-time Italian champions, but they haven’t won the Scudetto since 1964.

Their last league title led to a short-lived campaign in the old European Cup, where they were knocked out at the first attempt by Anderlecht on a coin toss following a 2-2 aggregate draw.

“I’m not thinking about it at all, I’m just thinking about our performances,” insisted Motta when asked about Champions League qualification.

Domenico Berardi is at risk of missing Euro 2024 with Italy after suffering an Achilles tendon injury during Sassuolo’s 1-0 defeat at relegation rivals Verona.

Karol Swiderski ensured that Verona stayed one place above the relegation zone with the only goal against 19th-placed Sassuolo, who lost their first match under Davide Ballardini and are in free fall.

Cagliari are just inside the bottom three but level on 23 points with Verona after Jakub Jankto netted the decisive strike in a 1-0 win at Empoli.

Empoli are only two points above the drop zone in 14th in a crowded battle against relegation, level with Lecce who drew 1-1 at fellow strugglers Frosinone.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News