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Osimhen fires blank as Napoli disappoint in 0-0 draw against Verona



Serie A - Napoli v Hellas Verona - Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples, Italy - April 15, 2023 Napoli's Victor Osimhen in action with Hellas Verona's Diego Coppola REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

Leaders Napoli were held to a goalless home draw by relegation-threatened Hellas Verona in Serie A on Saturday as Luciano Spalletti’s side finished winless for the third time in their last four games in all competitions.

Napoli, who on Wednesday were beaten 1-0 at AC Milan in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final, saw their advantage over second-placed Lazio narrow to 13 points after Maurizio Sarri’s men grabbed a comfortable 3-0 win at lowly Spezia on Friday.

Coach Spalletti rested midfielder Stanislav Lobotka, winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and defender Mario Rui from the starting line-up with Tuesday’s return leg in mind, but both Lobotka and Kvaratskhelia were called on in the second half.

Serie A’s top scorer Victor Osimhen, who returned to Napoli’s match squad after being sidelined with a thigh strain but was expected to be back in action only for the European clash, also came on from the bench.

Napoli thought they had opened the scoring in the 20th minute but Matteo Politano’s deflected strike was disallowed after Verona goalkeeper Lorenzo Montipo was obstructed by a player in an offside position.


The visitors had a chance to take a surprise lead just before the half-hour mark but striker Kevin Lasagna, who ended a solo run with a powerful shot from a distance, was denied by Napoli keeper Alex Meret.

Although Napoli enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, reaching 81% in the second half, they appeared toothless against Verona’s solid defence and managed only three shots in the opening 45 minutes, none of them on target.

The hosts came close to taking the lead again in the 56th minute through a Giovanni Di Lorenzo header which, however, went narrowly wide of the right post.

Amid a growing sense of frustration, substitute Osimhen then wasted a promising chance in the closing stages when he hit the bar in the 82nd minute.

Verona could have turned the hosts’ moods from bad to worse by sealing a win in stoppage time through a solo effort by winger Cyril Ngonge who, one-on-one with Meret, struck well wide of the target.


Verona, who are winless in seven out of their last eight games, are 18th on 23 points, three points from safety.

They remain the only Serie A side yet to win an away league match this campaign, with five draws and nine losses.

Milan were held to a 1-1 draw at eighth-placed Bologna earlier on Saturday, with Bologna striker Nicola Sansone opening the scoring inside the first minute and Milan’s Tommaso Pobega equalising in the 40th.

Stefano Pioli’s men, who would have provisionally moved up one place to third with a win, have now failed to win five of their last six Serie A games.



Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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