Napoli

Napoli pips Juventus to their 6th Coppa Italia Trophy

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Napoli has finally laid their hands on a trophy after six years when they defeated Juventus via the spot-kick to win the Coppa Italia.

With this success, Napoli that is currently sixth on the Italian Serie A table has secured a place in the UEFA Europa League.

Although the Pertonopei would have won it during the normal regulation time because they had the best scoring opportunities, but veteran goalie, Gigi Buffon heroics kept Juventus in the game til the penalties. The world cup winner eventually was beaten in a penalty shoot-out as coach Gennaro Gattuso wins the trophy as a coach for the first time, having won it as an AC Milan player in 2003.

Napoli had also won the previous Coppa Italia Final between them and Juventus in 2012. They lifted the trophy via 2-0 win, with goals coming from Edinson Cavani and Marek Hamsik.

In the match played behind closed doors in Rome after football action returned during the week after three months, David Ospina was absent due to suspension and was replaced between the sticks by Alex Meret. Mario Rui, Fabian Ruiz, and Jose Callejon also came in after the semi-final with Inter Milan, which the team won 2-1 on aggregate.

It would be a double joy for Napoli’s record goalscorer, Dries Mertens, who signed a new two-year deal on Wednesday morning.

Juve, on the other hand, missed the service of former Napoli striker, Gonzalo Higuain, captain Giorgio Chiellini, Merih Demiral, and Sami Khedira through injuries. Juan Cuadrado, who replaced Danilo at right-back, was the only change from the 0-0 draw with Milan.

How Juventus-Napoli clash went

The first real chance of the game came via the booth of Cristiano Ronaldo. His shot was saved by Meret after five minutes, after taking advantage of Callejon’s defensive error. Mario Rui also went down in the box after a shoulder-to-shoulder tussle with Alex Sandro but was not given the spot-kick.

Napoli’s freekick taker, Lorenzo Insigne’s sensational drive, swerved over the wall and smacked against the top of the near post on 24 minutes, leaving Buffon scrambling across.

Meret also stopped Ronaldo from scoring after rushing out and smother at the feet of the Portugues star, who ran on to Dybala’s inspired pass.

Napoli later got three chances in the space of a minute just before half-time. The first was Insigne’s curler, which was acrobatically nodded almost off the line by Alex Sandro. Buffon then, during the same move, used his legs to block Diego Demme’s run from close range. On the resulting corner, Buffon flew to fingertip another Insigne strike round the post.

Meret

Meredt saved Dybala’s spot-kick

Both sides continued to look for goals in the second interval, with most of the chances coming to Napoli. In the final minutes, Politano headed straight at Buffon, and Dybala’s attempt deflected wide.

Buffon heroic was also noticeable as there was chaos in the box. The goalie saved Nikola Maksimovic’s header from a corner, then managed to fingertip the Eljif Elmas follow-up on to the upright from point-blank range.

During the penalties, the Partenopei that has been practicing proved far more effective and dominated the shoot-out.

Meret saved Dybala’s effort, then Danilo blasted his over after a stuttering run-up. Polish striker, Arkadiusz Milik, converted the decisive kick to send Napoli players wild.