Resounding harakiri of the Neapolitans, who between 80 and 88 ‘undergo the comeback of the Tuscans after having been in the lead with goals from Mertens and Insigne
Napoli collapses 3-2 at Empoli and definitively says goodbye to Scudetto ambitions. Spalletti’s men unblock it in the 44th minute with Mertensfind the doubling with Insigne at 53 ‘, but then they throw themselves away in the final: between 80 and 88’ they suffer the sensational comeback of the Tuscans, signed by Henderson and from one double by Pinamonti. Andreazzoli regains the three points after 16 days: the last success went back to the first leg.
The tricolor dreams vanish in the most ruthless and most unexpected way. The Naples he finally takes off the race at the end of a nightmare afternoon, in which he manages to throw away a match that looked like it was in the safe due to a series of errors marksunsustainable for a team that aspires to the top. Eight minutes of total blackout cost the Azzurri their second defeat in the last three games and pave the way for a comeback Empoli that seemed destined for yet another misstep. The Tuscan team instead takes advantage of the gifts of the opponents and regains the three points more than four months after the last time: coincidentally the 0-1 by Cutrone of the “Maradona”. The fight for the title is now (almost) officially a Milan-Inter derby.
Andreazzoli chooses to play with the attacking couple Cutrone-Pinamonti supported by Verrewhile Spalletti does not give up on the 4-2-3-1 and lines up Mertens from 1 ‘in support of Osimhen. The first, sensational, chance is for the hosts and comes on the developments of the corner: Pinamonti he is completely free to hit his head, but does not frame the mirror from an excellent position. Napoli appears a bit contracted at the start, relying heavily on vertical play, but struggling to find central spaces. As the minutes pass, in any case, the Neapolitans take the reins of the game in hand and at 19 ‘they too close to scoring, with a Osimhen’s pumpkin from a corner deflected over the crossbar by the Empoli defense. Napoli makes the match, but the match remains in great balance and Empoli does not give up attacking when spaces are opened on the counterattack, creating even more from the point of view of opportunities. The first half seems to start a true 0-0 all in all right, but at 44 ‘comes the blue paw: on the cross of Lozano it is perfect veil of Osimhenwhich allows Mertens to strike with the right to cross and beat Vicario.
The guests start the second half with the intention of closing the accounts as soon as possible and at 53 ‘the doubling arrives on time: bad ball lost by Parisi at the start of the action, assist from Anguissa for Insigne that with the left platter finds the corner and puts the 0-2 on the scoresheet. Napoli seem to be able to carry out the match with a certain serenity, but 10 ‘from the end they manage to hurt themselves: the action comes from a badly lost ball by Malcuit on exit and is ended by Hendersoncompletely free to strike and beat Meret. The goalkeeper is then starring in the negative three minutes later when he ventures into a dribbling on Pinamontikicks him in an attempt to return by rolling the ball into the net e giving opponents the daring draw. Spalletti’s team is completely in the ball, they try to throw themselves forward but 5 ‘later the definitive blow arrives on the counterattack: again Pinamonti is good at pouncing on the cross of Bajramianticipating a revisable Malcuit and making Castellani explode for the final 3-2.
Pinamonti 7.5 – He fights and tries in every way, arguing with the goal for over 80 ‘and sometimes even being too stubborn. Then, however, his determination is rewarded with the shotgun that sends his to heaven, making them return to victory after a very long fast.
Bajrami 7 – Andreazzoli prefers Verre, who plays a good first half but without particular exploits. He enters the final and, in fact, decides the match making the most of the counterattack launched by Vicario, with a great assist for the 3-2.
Cutrone 5.5 – A game of sacrifice, in which, however, we see very little in the parts of Meret.
Zanoli 5 – A more complicated first half than expected in the defensive phase, too shy in the offensive phase. Spalletti leaves him in the locker room at half-time.
Malcuit 4.5 – Log in to replace Zanoli, but the final result is disastrous: very ugly lost ball at the 2-1 exit, late in closing on Pinamonti on the occasion of the 3-2.
Mertens 7 – Unlock with a paw a match that seemed complicated, it also creates a lot for the teammates and sacrifices itself in the folding phase. He goes out 5 ‘before the team implodes.
Empoli (4-3-1-2): Vicar 6; Stojanovic 6, Viti 6, Luperto 6, Parisi 5.5 (16 ‘st Cacace 6); Zurkowski 6.5, Asllani 6.5 (25 ‘st Stulac 6), Bandinelli 6 (16’ st Henderson 7); Verre 6 (21 ‘st Bajrami 7); Cutrone 5.5 (21 ‘st Di Francesco 6), Pinamonti 7.5.
Trainer: Andreazzoli 6.5
Naples (4-2-3-1): Meret 4; Zanoli 5 (1 ‘st Malcuit 4.5), Rrahmani 6, Juan Jesus 5.5, Mario Rui 5.5; Anguissa 6.5, Ruiz 6; Lozano 6.5 (23 ‘st Zielinski 5.5), Mertens 7 (32’ st Politano 5.5), Insigne 6.5 (40 ‘st Ounas sv); Osimhen 6.
Trainer: Spalletti 5
Markers: 44 ‘Mertens (N), 8’ st Insigne (N), 35 ‘st Henderson (E), 38’ st and 43 ‘st Pinamonti (E)
Ammonites: Bandinelli (E), Zanoli (N), Viti (E), Stojanovic (E), Pinamonti (E)
• Empoli are the third team in Serie A history to win a game, once down by two goals after 79 minutes of play, after Inter v Sampdoria on 9 January 2005 and Sampdoria v Sassuolo on 20 November 2016.
• For the second time in their history, Empoli have won a Serie A match after falling two goals, following 25 November 2018 against Atalanta.
• Napoli lost a Serie A game after winning two goals for the first time since 22 March 1942 against Torino (3-5).
• Napoli did not lose both Serie A games of the season against a newly promoted player from 2007/08, against Genoa.
• With the three goals of this meeting, Empoli have reached the threshold of 500 goals in Serie A (tables included).
• Before Andrea Pinamonti (12), the last Empoli player to score more than 10 goals in a Serie A season was Francesco Caputo, 16 goals in 2018/19.
• Lorenzo Insigne equaled Marek Hamsik (121 goals) in second place among Napoli’s top scorers in all competitions (best only Dries Mertens at 146).
• Lorenzo Insigne is the third player in the entire history of Napoli capable of scoring double figures in five different seasons in Serie A, after Antonio Vojak and Diego Maradona.
• Dries Mertens has taken part in 10 goals in 10 league matches against Empoli, against none of the opponents he has faced at least five times in Serie A and has a higher average of involvement per game (1.0, as against Cagliari).
• Dries Mertens has scored nine goals in Serie A this season, equaling his performance in each of the previous two seasons in the competition (but with three fewer appearances than last season and five fewer than in 2019/20).
• Liam Henderson is the second Scottish player to be involved in at least five goals in a Serie A season since Opta collects the details of the assists (since 2004/05), after Aaron Hickey (six), in the current tournament.