Serie A Match of the Round – Juventus vs Napoli

Juventus-Napoli fitted right into the high scoring nature of the first two Serie A rounds, as the whole leagues seems to have forgotten his defensive pedigree, much to the delight of the audience. A bizarre game, as the Bianconeri utterly dominated for an hour, but then gave the lead away in a 15-minute black-out. In an incredible twist though, Kalidou Koulibaly scored an own goal in the stoppage time.

Both sides had prevailed in the opener. Maurizio Sarri, who was at the Stadium but not on the bench as he completes his recovery from pneumonia, picked Matthijs De Ligt to replace Giorgio Chielliniand stuck with the XI form last week, with Gonzalo Higuain partnering up with Cristiano Ronaldo and Blaise Matuidi and Sami Khedira in the midfield. Same choice for Carlo Ancelotti, who substituted only Mario Rui with Faouzi Ghoulam on the left wing and stuck with Fabian Ruiz in the hole and Dries Mertens as false-nine.

Ronaldo and Allan challenged the opposing goalies with two powerful efforts from long range in the first few minutes, then the Old Lady broke the deadlock 16 minutes into the game. Danilo, who subbed in for the injured Mattia De Sciglio, kept up with Douglas Costa on a blistering counter-attack after a corner kick and got rewarded with a square ball and an easy finish on his second touch in Serie A.

The home team doubled the advantage three minutes later, as Matuidi fed Higuain deep in the box, El Pipita duped Kalidou Koulibaly with a crafty flick and blasted it home. Sami Khedira almost sealed the deal shortly thereafter, but Alex Meret closed on him quickly and deflected his point-blank attempt, and the crossbar stopped his pretty shot from 18 meters out.

Napoli did not find the strength to react until the second half, when the coach inserted Rui for Ghoulam and more importantly Hirving Lozano for Lorenzo Insigne, who had a physical hiccup. El Chucky featured as second-striker, with Piotr Zielinski moved to the left wing and Ruiz back in the midfield and the switch gave the enemies some troubles.

However, the Old Lady went up three-nothing at the 62nd minute, when Matuidi and Costa combined on the left flank, the Brazilian winger sent in a juicy backwards pass and Cristiano Ronaldo made no mistake on a comfortable cross-shot.

Just as the game seemed about over, the Azzurri reopened out of the blue with an extemporaneous header by Kostas Manolas on a long free kick by Rui. Two minutes later, they were fully back in it as Zielinski was sprung loose on the left flank by a through ball by Allan and he perfectly linked up with Lozano right outside the six-yard box, who knocked it past Wojciech Szczesny.

Juventus tried to respond but Costa’s thunderous strike rattled the crossbar and the Partenopei completed the comeback with Giovanni Di Lorenzo, who wiggled free from De Ligt on another set piece and tucked it home.

When things looked to be wrapped up, at the 92nd minute, Kalidou Koulibaly botched a flying clearance on a soft and long free kick by Miralem Pjanic that was headed nowhere and put it in the top corner of his own goal.

The scorers Ronaldo, Higuain and Lozano racked up four points fantasy-wise, Douglas Costa amassed three because he provided two assists, Danilo two because they allowed multiple goals, which is the same reason why Manolas got one and Di Lorenzo zero, as he was booked. Zielinski and Ruiz snatched two for their helpers.

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