Napoli beats 10-man Sampdoria 2-0 to stretch Serie A lead




Napoli's Viktor Osimhen celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the Serie A soccer match between Sampdoria and Napoli at the Luigi Ferraris stadium in Genoa, Italy, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. (Pecoraro/LaPresse via AP)

MILAN (AP) — Despite missing an early penalty, Napoli bounced back from its first league defeat of the season to beat 10-man Sampdoria 2-0 and extend its lead at the top of Serie A on Sunday.

In an emotional match at Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Victor Osimhen opened the scoring in the 19th minute after Matteo Politano had seen his penalty saved. Any chance Sampdoria had of getting back into the match diminished when Tomás Rincón was sent off shortly before halftime and Napoli sealed the result with another penalty.

Napoli moved seven points clear of second-placed Juventus although defending champion AC Milan can cut the gap back to five points if it beats Roma later.

Clashes took place earlier in the day between Roma fans traveling to Milan and Napoli supporters heading to Genoa. Around 300 fans were involved, throwing flares, stones and other objects at each other, causing part of the motorway to be closed and lengthy lines to form.

There were video tributes before the match to former Sampdoria players Gianluca Vialli and Siniša Mihajlović, who both died recently. There were also plenty of banners in the stands dedicated to them and chants throughout the match.

The Sampdoria players warmed up wearing special jerseys with Vialli’s name on as well as the number nine he wore when he played for the team. Flowers were also laid by the side of the field by members of the Sampdoria staff and the Italy players from Napoli.

Vialli, who died on Friday, helped Sampdoria to its only Serie A title and three Italian Cups as well as the European Cup final during an eight-year stint.

Mihajlović played and coached Sampdoria and his three children stood on the side of the field holding up a team jersey with his name on the back during a minute’s silence for him and Vialli.

Napoli was looking to recover from a 1-0 defeat to Inter Milan on Wednesday, when the league resumed after a 7 ½-week break.

It seemed set to get off to the perfect start when Samp defender Nicola Murru was adjudged to have fouled André Anguissa in the penalty area but Politano saw his spot kick turned onto the right post by goalkeeper Emilio Audero.

Napoli did break the deadlock when Mário Rui was given space on the left to bend a ball into the area for Osimhen to rush in and fire into the back of the net.

Samp’s problems deepened six minutes from the break when Rincón was shown a straight red card for a cynical foul on Osimhen.

However, it took the league leader until the 82nd minute to secure the match when Elmas fired a powerful penalty into the top left corner following a Ronaldo Vieira handball.

LATE RESCUE

Empoli stunned Lazio by scoring two late goals to snatch a 2-2 draw in the Italian capital.

Lazio appeared to have the match won when Mattia Zaccagni doubled its lead early in the second half, following a header by Felipe Anderson with less than two minutes on the clock.

However, Francesco Caputo pulled one back for the visitors seven minutes from time and Răzvan Marin netted a surprise equalizer in stoppage time.

Lazio was three points behind fourth-placed Inter Milan, which was held to a 2-2 draw at Monza on Saturday.

Spezia inched four points clear of the relegation zone with a 0-0 draw at home to Lecce, while Salernitana drew 1-1 against Torino.




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