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SERIE A

Osimhen propels Napoli’s rapid goal blitz gives them a 4-2 win at Monza

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Osimhen And Lewandowksi Trade Goals As Napoli Draw 1-1 At Barcelona In 1st Leg Of CL Last 16 -

Napoli scored three goals within six second-half minutes as they clinched a 4-2 victory at Monza on Sunday to keep alive their slim hopes of a top-four finish in Serie A.

The defending champions are seventh in the table with 48 points, 10 points behind fourth-placed Bologna, who played out a goalless draw at Frosinone earlier on Sunday. Monza are 11th with 42 points.

Napoli still find themselves in a challenging position in the table, trailing both AS Roma and Atalanta who sit in fifth and sixth place with 55 and 50 points respectively. Atalanta have two matches in hand before their clash at Cagliari later on Sunday.

Coach Francesco Calzona preferred not to discuss how the season could end for Napoli.

“We are forced to take it one game at a time because it doesn’t only depend on us,” he told DAZN.

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“We have to keep winning and maintain some hope of finishing in the top spots. If we play like the second half, we can have hope but not if we play like we did in the first half.”

Calzona said he had had a serious talk with the players during the break

“During halftime we talk, we discuss the problems, try to resolve them. The lads got the message but it’s not just today, I’ve been saying this for a long time.”

STUNNING GOALS

Milan Duric nodded in the opening goal for Monza nine minutes into the match, outmanoeuvring Napoli’s Juan Jesus to connect with a cross.

While Napoli focused on achieving an equaliser, Monza goalkeeper Michele Di Gregorio performed admirably to maintain his side’s advantage going into the break.

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The second half was frenzied, with five goals coming in 13 minutes at the sunny Stadio Brianteo.

Napoli began their comeback 10 minutes into the second half, when Victor Osimhen rose so high to nod in the equaliser that he landed on his face, requiring a brief moment of treatment before continuing.

Two minutes later, Matteo Politano unleashed a perfectly executed left-footed volley from outside the box, finding the far right corner and leaving the stadium stunned by the display.

With Monza in disarray, Napoli secured their third goal in the 61st minute, when Piotr Zielinski unleashed a shot from distance that struck the underside of the bar and found the net.

Andrea Colpani demonstrated that Monza could also produce impressive goals by curling a shot into the corner a minute later to keep alive the home fans’ hopes.

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Giacomo Raspadori scored Napoli’s fourth goal after 68 minutes, less than a minute after being substituted, by sending in the rebound from a save by Di Gregorio.

“They were spectacular goals but I like to underline Raspadori’s goal because he believed to the end,” Calzona said.

“Strikers must have that instinct to attack the goal even when it seems unlikely that the ball will come to him.”

-Reuters

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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.

SERIE A

Osimhen’s Napoli European hopes end with 0-0 draw against Lecce

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If Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen remains in Napoli in the next season, he will not have any action in UEFA competitions.

Napoli lost their slim chances to participate in European competitions next season when they were held to a 0-0 home draw by Lecce in their last Serie A game of the campaign on Sunday.

Last season’s champions Napoli finished 10th on 53 points, level with ninth-placed Torino who were beaten 3-0 at Atalanta in a simultaneous kick off on Sunday.

Despite their loss, Torino can now still earn a Europa Conference League playoffs spot if eighth-placed Fiorentina, who have a game in hand, win the Europa Conference League.

Fiorentina face Greece’s Olympiacos for the title on Wednesday.

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Napoli needed a win to maintain their European hopes but despite 24 shots, five of them on target, they ended their disappointing campaign winless in their last seven games.

Substitute Cyril Ngonge had a good chance to give Napoli the lead just after the break but his shot from the edge of the box was saved by Lecce goalkeeper Wladimiro Falcone.

Jens Cajuste hit the far post with a low strike shortly before Ngonge hit the bar in the 64th minute.

Europa League winners Atalanta, meanwhile, secured at least fourth spot after Gianluca Scamacca, Ademola Lookman and Mario Pasalic were all on target in a 3-0 win against Torino.

They sit fourth on 69 points but can still leapfrog third-placed Juventus, on 71 points, if they beat Fiorentina in their last remaining game next Sunday.

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-Reuters

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SERIE A

Osimhen’s Napoli European hopes hanging by a thread

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Italian champions Napoli’s hopes of playing European football next season were hanging by a thread after they played out a 2-2 draw at Fiorentina in Serie A on Friday.

Napoli took the lead in the eighth minute through defender Amir Rrahmani, who nodded home a corner by Matteo Politano.

Cristiano Biraghi levelled for Fiorentina in the 40th minute from a free kick, before M’Bala Nzola put the hosts in front two minutes later when he fired a shot into the bottom corner of the net.

Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia responded with another stunning free kick early in the second half to rescue a point for his team.

Eighth-placed Fiorentina, on 54 points and with a game in hand, are five points behind Lazio in seventh.

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They can still earn a Europa League spot either by leap-frogging the Rome side or by winning the Europa Conference League final in which they face Greece’s Olympiakos on May 29.

Ninth-placed Napoli, on 52 points, still have a slim chance of making the Europa Conference League playoffs.

-Reuters

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SERIE A

Last chance for Osimhen’s Napoli to clinch continental ticket

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Serie A - Napoli v AS Roma - Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples, Italy - April 28, 2024 Napoli's Victor Osimhen celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

Napoli’s defence of the Serie A title has long since ended and they must beat Fiorentina on Friday to have any hope of playing European football next season.

Napoli strolled to the Scudetto last year, clinching the title with five games to spare and finishing 16 points ahead of runners-up Lazio.

This time around it was Inter Milan who wrapped up the league with five games remaining, and Napoli are ninth in the standings, 41 points adrift of the leaders with a Conference League spot their only chance of European competition.

Fiorentina, two points ahead of Napoli with a game in hand, won their previous meeting 3-1 which could prove vital should the sides end the season level on points and the head-to-head record comes into play.

Napoli are without a win in their last five games, while Fiorentina have won three of their last five league matches.

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Fiorentina have qualified for this season’s Conference League final, where they face Greek side Olympiakos in Athens, looking to go one better than last year when they lost to West Ham United in the final

The Viola, unbeaten in Europe this season, will look to end the league campaign on a high and take that momentum into the final.

Napoli will probably be without top scorer Victor Osimhen, a serious doubt for the trip to Florence with a muscular problem, while Fiorentina welcome back Andre Belotti who missed Monday’s win over Monza.

Atalanta will bid to overcome the disappointment of Wednesday’s Coppa Italia final loss to Juventus when they play Lecce away on Saturday. Atalanta are fifth, the last Champions League spot, with a three-point lead over AS Roma and a game in hand.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta side may well go into this game with one eye on next week’s Europa League final against Bayer Leverkusen, and victory in that would also guarantee them Champions League football.

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Roma can take advantage of an Atalanta slip-up when they host Genoa on Sunday. Lazio are one point behind Roma in seventh and travel to champions Inter.

Bologna moved into third place ahead of Juventus on goal difference last weekend, and the sides meet on Monday, where the hosts will hope Juve continue a poor league run of five successive draws. AC Milan, who have secured second place, are at Torino on Saturday.

There is still much to be decided at the bottom of the table.

Salernitana, the only club definitely relegated, on Monday they host Hellas Verona who are 14th in the standings, two points ahead of Empoli in 17th.

Empoli on Sunday visit Udinese, another side in danger who one point ahead in 15th. Sassuolo are 19th, three points from safety, and must beat 16th-placed Cagliari on Sunday to give themselves any hope of survival.

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-Reuters

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