The Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in the south of the peninsula played host to an enthralling encounter between the Partenopei and the Biancocelesti, as the former ran riot to close in on a top-four position with the season nearing its climax.
The high-scoring 5-3 victory against Benevento over the weekend placed Lazio in a confident mindset going into the Napoli clash. But rather than scoring five, the visitors conceded as many and witnessed the hopes of Champions League qualification slowly fade away.
The Romans began with a well-balanced 3-5-2 formation as opposed to Gennaro Gattuso’s attacking 4-2-3-1 setup.
Napoli 1-0 Lazio: Confusing Turn Of Events
As both the teams got off to an equal-footed start, a perplexing turn of events in the space of a couple of minutes saw Napoli win a penalty. Five minutes into the match, the Partenopei won a corner where Kostas Manolas was challenged with a high boot by Milinkovic-Savic.
With the Greek down, Lazio continued to play with an effective counter-attack that ended with Manuel Lazzari being taken down in the opposite penalty area.
The referee stopped play to check for a possible penalty and ended up awarding the spot-kick in favour of Napoli, for Savic’s foul on Manolas – leaving the Lazio players stunned.
Lorenzo Insigne stepped up and slotted home his seventh penalty of the season.
Napoli 2-0 Lazio: Politano’s Commendable Effort
A few minutes later, Napoli No.21 Matteo Politano initiated a solo move from the right wing and turned Lazio’s defensive line inside-out with an accurate low drive from an extremely tight angle between Pepe Reina and the goal post.
His left-footed strike struck an intense blow to the Biancocelesti’s morale as they ended up 2-0 down within the first quarter of an hour.
The rest of the half was played out rather evenly. Lazio had chances to make a comeback but wastefulness played a huge part in the scoreline remaining the same until the end of the first half.
Napoli 3-0 Lazio: Insigne Scores a Brace
Lazio saw more of the ball as the second half kicked off, but Napoli’s deft counterattack in the 53rd minute poised Insigne to double his tally for the night with a delightful finesse.
He struck a lovely shot in the top corner past a helpless Reina to triple his side’s lead.
Napoli 4-0 Lazio: Merten’s Wonder Goal
Ten minutes later, Dries Mertens was on the end of Zielinski’s creative first-touch turn, dribble and pass. The Belgian forward scored yet another glorious goal for the home side with a thumping one-touch shot into the top right corner.
Mertens scored his 102nd Serie A career goal for Napoli and became the club’s top scorer in the competition, going past Marek Hamsik.
Napoli 4-1 Lazio: Immobile Churns Some Hope
Lazio’s hopes of making a comeback was shattered with Napoli’s fourth. Nonetheless, Ciro Immobile once again delivered a goal with a beautiful finesse finish. Substitute Andreas Pereira’s through ball was well received by the striker and he made no mistake to score a curler past Alex Meret.
It was his sixth goal in a row against Napoli.
Napoli 4-2 Lazio: Milinkovic-Savic’s Stunning Free-Kick
It was Immobile once again who played a key role in Lazio’s second, as he won a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area. But, it was Milinkovic-Savic who raised the visitor’s hopes of a comeback with a stunner of a free-kick.
The Serbian unleashed a wonderful shot, which met Meret’s fingertips before ending up in the back of the net.
Napoli 5-2 Lazio: Osimhen Kills the Match
It was game on after Lazio’s second, but Napoli’s Nigerian marksman Victor Osimhen effectively ended the visitors’ night with his side’s fifth. It was Lazio’s right wing once again that fell victim to creative play.
Hirving Lozano played an accurate early ball from the right half of the field into the striker’s path. Osimhen gave it a slight touch before knocking it past Reina with great power.
Even as Lazio found themselves three goals down, there were chances to get back into the game in the final minutes. Lack of creativity in midfield and inability to maintain possession played a key role in the defeat.
There were moments when Lazio tried taking control, but it all was in vain as Napoli pressurized any movement of passing play with effective pressing and cutting of passing lines.
Lazio sit in 6th place, five points behind Napoli on 58. With a victory tonight, the Biancocelesti could have gone past the Naples side – who were on 60 points before the match. Roma sit three points behind, in the 7th position. The hopes of a European place are dim for Lazio, but still alive.