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Napoli leave top spot open for Milan on derby night

By AFP
07 November 2021   |   8:10 pm
Napoli could lose their Serie A lead on Sunday after only managing a 1-1 draw at home with Verona on a night in which they honoured Diego Maradona with a special jersey.

Napoli’s Algerian orward Adam Ounas (C) fights for the ball with Hellas Verona’s Portuguese midfielder Miguel Veloso during the Italian Serie A football match between Napoli and Hellas Verona on November 7, 2021 at the Diego-Maradona stadium in Naples. (Photo by Carlo Hermann / AFP)

Napoli could lose their Serie A lead on Sunday after only managing a 1-1 draw at home with Verona on a night in which they honoured Diego Maradona with a special jersey.

Luciano Spalletti’s side wore a kit bearing the face of club legend Maradona, who died nearly a year ago, but were not inspired to beat Verona and can now be overtaken by AC Milan if they beat local rivals Inter in the weekend’s big match.

Napoli are a point ahead of Milan, who know a derby win at the San Siro would take them top.

Verona, who finished the match with nine men after two late red cards for Daniel Bessa and Nikola Kalinic, took a point thanks to Giovanni Simeone’s close-range finish from Antonio Barak’s low cross in the 13th minute.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo levelled for the hosts just five minutes later but they couldn’t find a winner, with Victor Osimhen and Dries Mertens striking the woodwork late in each half.

Napoli are wearing the Maradona kit for all of their games in November, with a trip to Inter Milan and a home clash with Lazio coming up in the league after the international break.

Maradona led Napoli to their only two Serie A titles and the 1989 UEFA Cup in seven successful and frequently controversial seasons in southern Italy between 1984 and 1991.

He remains an icon in Naples and his death last November was felt as keenly in the city as it was in his native Argentina.

In the early evening’s other match, Lazio strolled past Salernitana in a 3-0 win which moved Maurizio Sarri’s side into fifth above local rivals Roma, who lost the day’s early match 3-2 at Venezia.

Roma struggles continue

Roma’s worrying crash in form continued with a fifth defeat for Jose Mourinho’s team just 12 games into the season.

Deservedly a goal ahead at half-time after Eldor Shomurodov and Tammy Abraham had scored following Mattia Caldara’s opener for promoted Venezia, Roma collapsed after a harsh penalty decision allowed Mattia Aramu to level with a 65th-minute spot-kick.

David Okereke’s neat finish with 16 minutes remaining on the banks of the Venetian Lagoon sank the club from the capital, who are now sixth and three points outside the Champions League places.

It was Roma’s fourth defeat in seven games in all competitions, a run which includes a 6-1 thumping at the hands of Norwegian outfit Bodo/Glimt.

“Unfortunately the rules are made by people who have never played or coached,” said Mourinho to DAZN of the decision to award the penalty against Bryan Cristante.

“Usually in my experience at the end of the season you look at the decisions… things usually balance out, but after an accumulation of decisions you begin to think that it’s better just to keep quiet.”

The win for Paolo Zanetti’s Venezia moves them up to 15th on 12 points, three away from the relegation zone.

After taking the lead his team could have won by more, twice striking the bar through Caldara — via a brilliant Rui Patricio save — and Thomas Henry.

“Leaving aside the result, I have to be proud of my players because we played a very good team and we scored three times… and we created more than in many other matches,” Zanetti said to DAZN.

“The performance was there and it would have been disappointing not to bring home the result.”