Napoli scrape a big win from local derby, both teams see red in horror on Halloween night

Napoli scrape a big win from local derby, both teams see red in horror on Halloween night post thumbnail image

Napoli xi:  Ospina, Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Koulibaly, Mario Rui, Fabian Ruiz, Anguissa, Elmas, Lozano, Oshimen, Insigne.

Salernitana xi:  Belec; Zortea, Strandberg, Gyomber, Ranieri; Kastanos, Di Tacchio, Schiavone; Ribery; Bonazzoli, Gondo

Salernitana: 0 Napoli: 1

Scorers: Zielinski (60)

Although it  was technically an away game, Napoli would be hoping that the hour trip to Salerno would give the players a homely-feel as they were facing Salernitana in the Campanian derby, a derby  which is a rarity in the northern dominated league. After a dominant 3-0 win on Thursday, they were hoping to keep their hot form up against a home side that has struggled at the bottom of the table all season. On the other hand the Granata were on the up ,after a win against relegation rivals Venezia, they were certainly looking to keep Napoli on their toes .They had already claimed a draw off of Inter at the Stadio Arechi, and given the sibling rivalry of the two clubs, they would certainly give their all against the league leaders.

The glaring omission from the Napoli XI would certainly be the standout Victor Oshimen. The 22 year old talisman exited a Saturday training session with a muscle strain and wouldn’t make the trip to Salerno. The club have since announced that the injury is “not serious”. Replacing him is club legend Dries Mertens, who is still looking for his first goal of the season. Insigne also has been given a rest, only on the bench for this match, he was subbed for Lozano meaning that Politano keeps his preferred spot on the right. The rest of the side is business as usual. Salernitano have also had injury troubles, losing their own star Coulibaly to injury, they will be hoping veteran star Frank Ribery will be able to inspire the side to a respectable result.

Although the distance was short, there would be no official Napoli fan presence in the stadium, the decision had been made to prohibit the sale of away tickets as the rivalry had been deemed “ too excitable”. Even early on, the tactics seemed to be decided. Salernitana would be looking to counter, operating a tight defensive unit and hoping to strike quickly. Napoli would be the team in possession hoping to crack the defense open within the 90 minutes. 

The first big opportunity was an inswinging cross from Politano, linking up with Lozano who headed the ball over the bar. In the first 15 minutes, Napoli looked in control, but it was already clear that they were missing Oshimens’ pace and power in the attack. Salernitana seemed to be succeeding in their strategy to frustrate Spalletti’s men. Ribery had made a few industrious dribbles and it was clear that his experience would be key to orchestrating a win for the home fans. 

Anguissa failed to convert a corner strike, after finding himself free in the box, he failed to shoot on target after volleying the shot which was just behind him, sending it over the bar form close range. Their first shot on target was a long range strike, striker Bonnazoli’s shot was comfortably caught by Ospina. Although a tame shot, this was the closest either side had come to scoring late in the first 45. 

Lozano saw another attempt sail above the bar, the Mexican winger should have done better after a well worked move in the final third. This would be the final event of the first half, a dogged Salernitana managed to halt and even frustrate Napoli in a difficult match so far.

The Partenopei nearly conceded at the start of the second half. After winning the ball back in the Napoli half, Ribery almost received the ball in the six yard box but was unable to control the ball as Ospina gratefully managed to handle the ball. They certainly seemed much sharper than Napoli early on.

Di Lorenzo managed to find himself free down the right and fired a shot at Belec but it was ruled offside. So far the Salernitana defense had stifled Napoli’s forward 3, Mertens had barely touched the ball. 

So much so that he was subbed off before the 60th minute for the much bigger Petagna, Lozano was also subbed off for Elmas for a much needed shakeup. Their impact was immediate. 

Elmas travelled with the ball toward the 18 yard box finding Politano with a chipped pass that had managed to draw out the keeper, he crossed cross the ball to Petagna who’s headed attempt struck the bar and in the chaos the ball fell to Zielinski, who managed to smash it through Belec for the breakthrough, which they desperately needed to break the game open. 

Salernitana were now needing to attack, which left them open for counter attacks from Napoli. Their night went from scary to a horrorshow after midfielder Castenos was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Anguissa which after a VAR check was deemed worthy of a red. 

Zielinski was looking to add to his tally with a mid range shot that flashed just past Salernitana’s right post. 

The game wasn’t over however. Ribery, still full of energy, managed to slip a ball into the path of Simy Nawanko who was brought down by Koulibaly of all people just outside of the Napoli box with no-one between them and Ospina. The referee deemed this action a red card offense and he sent the captain off.

The home side sensed blood in the water, and almost got their goal from the ensuing free kick but Di Lorenzo wisely positioned himself on the goalline to keep the Rivery strike out of the goal.

They kept on the pressure, winning a corner unfortunately straight at Ospina who had been calm and capable when called upon.

Napoli did have their chances to close the game out. Elmas made an energetic run into the box and fired towards the goal, it took a smart save from Berec who  got up quickly for a rebound from Ruiz. Rui was the next Napoli player to fire, the ball skimmed past the post. 

Salernitana’s clearest chance of the game came in the 95th minute, Ospina went to catch a cross but was disrupted by Nawanko, the ball fell to Gagliolo who somehow fired it over the bar. 

Luck was on Napoli’s side this evening as they escaped Salerno with all 3 points. Salernitana fought valiantly and definitely brought Napoli to their hardest win of the season. The Granata deserved more out of the game than they received. Napoli had now won their 10th game out of 11 and put pressure on the Milan in their match against Roma this evening.