HomeFootballREPORT | Udinese 1-1 Napoli

REPORT | Udinese 1-1 Napoli


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This very Serie A fixture last year was a historical one. A Victor Osimhen equaliser gave Napoli a 1-1 draw, and that point was enough to crown the Neapolitans champions of Italy upon the fulltime whistle.

The May 4th 2023 result sparked epic scenes of joy in the city where Diego Maradona won two league titles. The modern day heroes of Naples had finally added the third. This year however, the feeling around the Napoli team has been very different indeed.

Napoli were 10 points off Champions League football before this game, and Udinese were in a dire situation of their own; three points from safety. Napoli’s star player Khvicha Kvaratskhelia was absent for this trip through injury, but Napoli hadn’t lost away to Udinese since way back in 2016.

The Udinese manager is none other than Fabio Cannavaro. The World Cup winning captain of Italy was born and raised in Napoli, but desperately needed a result against his hometown club on Monday night.

The opening stages of this game were uneventful though. In the 15th minute of the game banners were revealed in memory of the 1976 Friuli earthquake. Everyone in the stadium as well as both sets of players stopped to applaud the tribute to the tragic events of May 6th 1976 when almost 1,000 people lost their lives and over 157,000 lost their homes.

Back to the football and the teams went down the tunnel for the break with the scoreline stuck at 0–0, and I mean stuck. The first half saw zero shots on target from either team and little to know expected goals. Exactly what you would have expected if you watched this extremely drab 45 minutes. The second half could only get better.

Thankfully things did pick up, a little. Victor Osimhen struck after 52 minutes to take the lead. The Nigerian forward flew through the air to meet the cross from the right wing. Italian international Matteo Politano provided the assist, Napoli were on the board, and Udinese were in big trouble.

The home side finally woke up and responded with some pressure of their own, but as the game drifted into the latter stages it felt like the visitors were the more likely. Then with just over ten minutes to go the masked figure of Osimhen found the back of the net for a second time, but his finish was ruled out as he had just strayed offside.

With less than five minutes left of normal time Victor Osimhen was the man in the news again, but sadly for him this time it was for the wrong reasons. The forward winced in pain as he hobbled off the pitch. It looks like he hurt his knee, without colliding with anybody, but instead by getting his boot stuck in the turf and twisting the wrong way. A sore one for the goalscorer saw him replaced by Giovanni Simeone.

Stoppage time came and Udinese started to throw ‘hail mary’ type balls into the box, but wouldn’t you know it, they found success. Isaac Success. The former Watford and Granada frontman controlled a knock-down in the box and found the far corner of the goal. It wasn’t particularly deserved but it was exactly what the home side needed and a sigh of relief was felt amongst the supporters.

In the end a draw was probably a fair result, neither team set the world alight on Monday and both showed why they have had such frustrating seasons. Neither team completed the 90 minutes with 1.0 xG unsurprisingly, and so both were lucky to score.

Never mind Champions League, Napoli are five points off Lazio and any kind of European football. A frustrated Victor Osimhen vented at his teammates after the final whistle had gone, what a contrast in emotions from the same result in the same fixture last season.

Cannavaro and Udinese might have wanted more, but this is a decent point for a side scraping at the bottom. Especially considering they entered stoppage time looking hapless and a goal down. Udinese are now trailing safety and Empoli by two points. They will play each other in the penultimate game of the season, but first Udinese have to try and take something from a trip to Lecce. Defeat in that one could be catastrophic.

Joseph O’Sullivan | GIFN

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