Victor Osimhen shot Napoli to a 1-0 win over Fiorentina on Sunday in the newly-crowned Serie A champions’ first appearance in front of their home fans since being crowned kings of Italy for the first time in 33 years.
Nigeria striker Osimhen lashed home from the penalty spot in the 74th minute to take his league tally to 23 just a few days after netting the goal which sealed Napoli’s third Scudetto with a record-equaling five matches to play.
A party mood has enveloped Naples since Thursday’s draw in Udine, and on Sunday afternoon fans let off fireworks and flares in the jammed streets around the stadium named after their icon Diego Maradona on a gorgeously sunny day in southern Italy.
Packed bars and restaurants did a roaring trade with locals and tourists alike decked out in blue as a festive but relaxed mood dominated the city.
Before kick-off supporters put on a display of the Italian flag with the number three in honor of their title wins and hailed their heroes with loud chants of “we are the champions”.
But once the match got underway a torpor slowly washed over the ground, not helped by two teams with nothing to play for going through the motions and Napoli creating next to nothing.
Osimhen couldn’t even put away a penalty awarded a minute after half-time for Sofyan Amrabat’s rugby tackle on Stanislav Lobotka.
However, Serie A’s leading scorer was given a chance to redeem himself when Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s weaving dribble towards the goal was stopped illegally by Nicolas Gonzalez, and this time he made no mistake.
Flares were lit all around the ground and blue smoke filled the air to hail a win which took Napoli’s massive lead at the top of the table to 17 points over hated rivals Juventus.
– Vlahovic abused –
Juve are second after a 2-0 win at fellow Champions League chasers Atalanta, whose fans racially abused goalscorer Dusan Vlahovic.
Serbia forward Vlahovic finished the job deep in stoppage time and then goaded a section of the home supporters after having previously been insulted as a “gypsy”, abuse which had led to the match being briefly stopped by referee Daniele Doveri.
The Italian word for gypsy is often used by sections of football supporters as a slur for players from the Balkans and eastern Europe, regardless of their ethnicity.
“Unfortunately these chants keep happening, they need to be fought against,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri to DAZN.
Juve, who hosted Sevilla in the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday, are two points ahead of Lazio who lost at AC Milan on Saturday and, as things stand, have a good chance of making the Champions League next season.
Allegri’s side are five points in front of fifth-placed Milan but their hopes of qualifying for Europe’s top club competition through league placing depend on an Italian Football Federation (FIGC) ruling on alleged illicit transfer activity.
Last month Italy’s highest sporting court revoked a 15-point penalty inflicted on Juve in January by the FIGC’s appeals tribunal, who have to come to a new judgment.
Atalanta’s chances of making the top four were hit by their defeat, as Gian Piero Gasperini’s side was five points behind fourth-placed Inter and in the Europa Conference League spot.