Serie A: Napoli extend winning run; Juventus, Lazio win derbies

Juventus grabbed the headlines on Sunday beating fierce rivals Inter Milan 2-0 in the Derby d’Italia, while Lazio edged out Roma 1-0 in the Derby della Capitale. Earlier on Saturday, Napoli extended their unbeaten run to nine games winning away at then second placed Atalanta. Elsewhere, Olivier Giroud secured a late winner for AC Milan against a spirited Spezia side.

Here are the talking points from this week’s round of fixtures.

Allegri hopes derby win can relaunch Juventus’ season

Filip Kostic set up both goals as an injury depleted Bianconeri shocked Simone Inzaghi’s Inter side in what was the standout game in Serie A this weekend. The Old Lady rode their luck as the visitors missed a host of chances, with Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries missing two glorious opportunities to put the visitors 2-0 up in the first half. Argentine striker Lautaro Martinez also spurned the chance to restore parity when Massimiliano Allegri’s side were leading the game 1-0.

Kostic, the £10 million summer signing from Eintracht Frankfurt setup Adrian Rabiot in the 52nd minute with a fine darting run. The Serbian wingback then found Nicolo Fagioli whose thumping 84th minute strike gave the home side a huge win. This was Juventus’ fourth straight clean sheet in the league, and they currently boast of having the best defensive record in the league.  Allegri later claimed that the derby win could be the catalyst that his side needed to turnaround their season. Juventus had a forgettable Champions League run, getting knocked out in the group stages, managing only 3 points from six games in a tough group that included Benfica and Paris Saint-Germain. The Italian side however were without key players in Dusan Vlahovic, Leandro Pardes and Winston McKennie while Federico Chiesa and Angel Di Maria only made the bench, coming back from injuries. Beating a strong Inter side would surely give Allegri a lot of relief as his side sit fifth in the table, four points adrift of second placed AC Milan.

Is this finally Napoli’s year?

The past few years have been the case of ‘so near yet so far’ for Napoli fans. The Partenopei were close to winning the Serie A during Juventus’ eight-year dominance but ultimately would fade in the closing stages in the title run. This year however feels different. In what might had been thought of as a rebuild year, manager Luciano Spalletti has surely worked his magic with his side. Napoli have been the best amongst any European side this season, and showed their title credentials with a crucial away win over the then-second placed Atalanta. Adama Lookman opened the scoring for Gian Piero Gasperini’s side before goals from Victor Osimhen and Eljif Elmas secured a 2-1 win for the traveling side.

Napoli were without their dazzling winger Kvicha Kvaratskhelia, who missed out for the visitors with a back pain sustained during training. Spalletti’s side however didn’t look like they missed their young Georgian as Osimhen scored four minutes later, while Elmas’s 35th minute strike made sure Napoli returned south with three points in the bag. The Naples outfit currently sit six points clear of second placed Milan. Even though its early in the season, Neapolitans would hope that their beloved side can finally reclaim the Scudetto – three decades since Diego Maradona’s exploits in the late eighties.

Can Lazio break into the top four?

Felipe Andersen scored the only goal as Lazio edged out Roma in an evenly contested capital derby. Maurizio Sarri’s side were without key payers Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, but managed to contain a disjointed looking home side who slumped to their fourth defeat of the season. It was Lazio’s seventh clean sheet from the last eight games which meant that Sarri’s men leapfrogged Roma upto third place in the table.  

This win will give the 63-year-old Italian manager a lot of heart, who clearly seemed to enjoy the occasion and following his team’s win, he claimed to say that the Derby della Capitale is incomparable with London derbies. ‘There’s nowhere near this passion.’ If Lazio can build on their defensive discipline and with key players back from injuries after the World Cup, the Blues from Rome can mount a serious top four finish.

Milan back in business

Giroux celebrates during Milan’s win vis Spezia – but his shirt removal also saw him removed from the match.

Olivier Giroud is surely aging like fine wine. After netting a brace in the Champion League in midweek, the 36-year-old scored a sensational winner, one minute from time that gave Milan three crucial points against Spezia on Saturday. The French striker however was sent off for taking his shirt off while celebrating his goal. This was an important three points for Stefano Pioli’s side as they recovered from last week’s defeat against Torino. Milan are currently in second place, six points behind Napoli and having qualified for the Champions League knock out stages, it looks like the sun is shining for the Rossoneri.

Photo credits: Imago

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