Napoli 3-1 Lazio
In the end, it wasn’t enough to earn Lazio the Serie A runners-up spot.
Even if they had triumphed in Naples, Inter Milan’s victory at Atalanta would have made that impossible anyway.
But it was still a night on which to cherish a joint record holder and someone who has proved to be the leading marksman, arguably in Europe, this term.
Step forward Ciro Immobile who netted his 36th league goal of the campaign to clinch the Capocannoniere (Golden Boot) and equal Gonzalo Higuain’s Serie A goals record from four years ago; ironically when he was a Napoli.
Highlights of the game
Despite effectively being a dead-rubber – both sides had secured their places in Europe for next season – it was clear this mattered to both sides.
The second half was, at times, ill-tempered and if there was any doubt both wanted to win, the sight of managers Simone Inzaghi and Gennaro Gattuso being booked in the second half before a late skirmish involving players on both sides made it clear.
Lazio boss Inzaghi had already urged his side to end the season on a high, a season in which they created plenty of Serie A highlights to clinch a return back to the Champions League for the first time in 13 years.
Napoli, meanwhile, could have been forgiven for having their sights on the Champions League trip to Barcelona but once again gave it their all against league rivals.
They had announced their club record signing on the eve of this fixture – even though this SBOBET observer wonders if the outlay will lead to the departure of star defender Kalidou Koulibaly – and had a spring in their step from early on.
Only nine minutes had elapsed when Fabian Ruiz, with the aid of a deflection, curled the ball into the top corner.
It was a lead which wasn’t to last too long as Immobile entered his name into the record books.
In poking the ball home from close range, it was particularly fitting for the frontman to equal the record of 36 goals in a single season by netting at the Stadio San Paolo.
Firstly, because that is where Higuain set it in May 2016, but also as the Lazio striker is from the Naples area.
What’s more, in equalising Immobile also set a new Serie A record of away goals scored in a single season, one ahead of his own 2017/18 exploits and that set by Zlatan Ibrahimovic during his Inter Milan days.
Into the second half and Napoli regained the lead nine minutes after the break, Lorenzo Insigne converting from the penalty spot after Dries Mertens was caught by Marco Parolo.
Had Tucu Correa not been denied by the woodwork moments later, following a lovely solo run, or seen an effort saved by David Opsina soon afterwards, Lazio may quickly have restored parity.
Adam Marusic also nodded narrowly wide before Napoli produced a fine team move in the final minute and Matteo Politano had the final say to earn the hosts a win, although that was marred somewhat by the sight of Insigne leaving the fray with what appeared to be a muscular problem.
Ultimately, once tempers died down, the match will be remembered for two reasons:
The sight of Jose Callejon, named skipper for the night, receiving hugs in his final match at the Stadio San Paolo will be remembered by those with a Napoli connection.
The sight of Italian marksman Immobile, equalling Higuain’s record and that set by Gino Rossetti in 1928/29, the season prior to Serie A’s establishment, will be remembered by many more and was a special moment and a significant achievement.
If Serie A betting odds are offered on a repeat, I bet it won’t happen for some time to come.
Immobile has moved level alongside Lionel Messi as the player to be directly involved in the most league goals in the top five European leagues in 2019-20: Messi (25 goals, 20 assists) Immobile (36 goals, nine assists).
Insigne’s penalty was the 186th awarded in Serie A this season. There were only 92 in England’s Premier League.
Inzaghi has a poor managerial record on the final day of the season since taking charge of the club. He has lost all five of his matches and conceded at least three goals per game.
Napoli have now won 50 games against Lazio (more than they have against any other club), also winning 32 of the 64 meetings at the San Paolo and losing just 10.
Serie A is now concluded for both these sides.
Napoli still have at least one game remaining in 2019-20, however They ravel to the Camp Nou a week tonight (August 8) to take on Barcelona in the Champions League.
Their last-16 tie second leg s currently tied at 1-1.
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