Udinese 1-1 Napoli: Napoli are Champions after 33 years
Napoli sealed their first Serie A title in 33 years as Victor Osimhen’s strike earned a 1-1 draw against Udinese.
Having missed the chance to win the title in front of their own fans on Sunday, Napoli went into Thursday’s clash at Dacia Arena knowing a point would be enough to claim their first Scudetto since the Diego Maradona era.
Fittingly, it was talisman Osimhen – with his 22nd league strike of the season – who scored the goal to claim Napoli’s third Serie A crown, cancelling out Sandi Lovric’s opener.
Unlike Napoli’s local rivals Salernitana, Udinese did not quite have the same commitment to postponing Napoli’s party, which is sure to be one for the ages.
Napoli’s contingent of travelling fans were making all the noise in the opening stages, though their enthusiasm was dampened when Lovric planted a brilliant finish into the top-right corner in the 13th minute.
Aiming to snap a three-game scoreless streak in Serie A, Osimhen forced a save from Marco Silvestri soon after, while partner in crime Khvicha Kvaratskhelia had a penalty appeal dismissed following a VAR review.
Osimhen went close with a header just after the half-hour, though Napoli were fortunate that Lovric had been unable to beat Alex Meret for a second time at the other end a moment earlier.
Napoli’s number nine would not be denied again, though, and after Silvestri palmed out Kvaratskhelia’s low effort, Osimhen slammed home an equaliser seven minutes into the second half.
Osimhen thought he had made it 2-1 with 23 minutes remaining, only for the goal to be disallowed due to a foul in the build-up.
Luciano Spalletti’s tension on the touchline was clear, but his team stayed calm on the pitch as they saw out a draw that will go down in their history.
What does it mean? History makers
Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia, and the rest of Spalletti’s squad are going down in Napoli history. Perhaps they will never quite have the legacy of El Diego, but they will forever hold a special place in the hearts of the Azzurri faithful, who were last able to celebrate a title way back in 1990.
Napoli have been crowned Serie A champions with five games left to play – only two teams in the three-points-for-a-win era had previously won the title with five games to go (Juventus in 2018-19 and Inter in 2006-07). The only shame for Napoli is that they did not manage to cap their title procession off with a win.
Like a fine wine…
At the age of 64 years and 58 days, Spalletti is the oldest coach to win Serie A.
It also marks the first Serie A title of his career, with his last success as a coach in Italy having come in 2008, when he led Roma to a second successive Coppa Italia triumph.
Wizard of Os
It had to be him. Osimhen has enjoyed an extraordinary season, and ended his mini scoring drought in emphatic fashion, with the Nigerian rushing over to celebrate in front of the vast swathes of visiting supporters.
The former Lille striker – who may well be headed for pastures new next season – has now scored 46 Serie A goals, equalling George Weah as the highest-scoring African player in the competition’s history.
Napoli’s coronation can take place on Sunday, when they host Fiorentina, albeit the fans and players alike will likely have to shrug off their hangovers.