Juventus moved up to third in the Serie A table with a 2-1 victory over Napoli at the Allianz Stadium.Both teams might have had a penalty in the first half, and it was the hosts that took the lead in the 13th minute when Cristiano Ronaldo tucked in a low shot after superb work from wide on the right by Federico Chiesa.
In an open and entertaining match both sides traded further chances before Paulo Dybala effectively sealed the victory with a low shot into the bottom corner after 73 minutes. A late penalty for Napoli, converted by Lorenzo Insigne, proved too little, too late.
The defeat leaves Napoli in fifth place and in danger of missing out on the Champions League qualifying places. They will now travel to face Sampdoria on Sunday, while Juventus face Genoa at home.
It was a must win game for the defending champions, and despite a late scare they did just that. Their chances of retaining the title are remote given Inter’s victory over Sassuolo tonight that keeps the gap to the top at 12 points, but Juventus at least responded to disappointing recent performances to move up to third.
The result should keep manager Andrea Pirlo in gainful employment for now. There will be no tenth league title on the spin, and a season that promised so much looks like it could at best end with the Coppa Italia if they can beat Atalanta in May, to go with the Suppercopa Italiana they secured in January.
Two trophies would be a good return for most teams, but Juventus measure themselves in league and European titles. Inter look to have disappeared over the hill with the former, while that chastening defeat to Porto in the latter still burns. Do they rebuild this summer, and if so will they do it without one or both of Pirlo and Ronaldo? There are big decisions to make in Turin this summer.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Federico Chiesa (Juventus)
He was a constant threat down the right all night for Juventus. Chiesa’s brilliant dancing feet set up Juventus’s first for Ronaldo, and he should also have earned his side a penalty after another dangerous run in the first half.
Juventus (4-4-2): Buffon 7; Danilo 6, De Ligt 6, Chiellini 6, Alex Sandro 7; Cuadrado 6, Bentancur 6, Rabiot 7; Chiesa 8; Morata 6, Ronaldo 7SUBS: McKennie 6, Dybala 7, Arthur 6
Napoli (4-2-3-1): Meret 6; Di Lorenzo 6, Rrahmani 5, Koulibaly 6, Hysaj 6; Fabian Ruiz 6, Demme 6; Lozano 7, Zielinski 7, Insigne 7; Mertens 6SUBS: Osimhen 7, Politano 6, Rui 6, Elmas 6, Petagna 6
13’ GOAL! Juventus 1 (Ronaldo 13) Napoli 0 It’s been coming! Brilliant, dancing play from Chiesa takes him past Insigne and Hysaj on the right of the area. He drills a low cross into the box where Ronaldo is waiting to guide a shot into the bottom corner from eight yards out.
38’ CHANCE! Cuadrado cuts in from the right, a brilliant run that sees him ghost past two defenders, but he can only thrash his shot straight at Meret from 15 yards out.
40’ CLOSE! Insigne opens up from 25 yards out, sending the ball out for the far corner from the right, but it’s inches over the bar and the despairing dive of Buffon.
73’ GOAL! Juventus 2 (Dybala 73) Napoli 0 That could be the match. Bentancur slips a nice pass through to Dybala, on the edge of the area on the right. He opens his body up and guides a left-footed curler right into the bottom corner. That’s a lovely finish.
88’ PENALTY! Now then! Chiellini brings down Osimhen just as he opened up to shoot, and it’s a late chance for Napoli as Petagna comes on to replace Fabian Ruiz.
90’ GOAL! Juventus 2 Napoli 1 (Insigne pen. 90) Insigne sends Buffon definitively the wrong way, and Napoli are still in this! They’ll have four minutes.
- Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal was his 25th of this season, leaving him four ahead of Romelu Lukaku in the race for the capocannoniere title.
- Napoli’s defeat was their sixth away from home in Serie A this season.