Napoli paint sky Azzurri as Insigne says arrivederci
With nothing to play for except bragging rights, Napoli registered an emphatic 3-0 win over Spezia Calcio on the final matchday of a rollercoaster season. It turned out to be a fitting farewell for club legend and Toronto-bound Lorenzo Insigne, who leaves the club after 122 goals in 433 appearances.
Assured of finishing third no matter what happened, the lack of pressure seemed to have brought the best out of Luciano Spalletti’s men in recent matches. Maintaining their momentum, Matteo Politano struck a magnificent solo effort in just the fourth minute, weaving through Spezia’s left flank and unleashing a belter from the edge of the box to put Napoli in the driving seat.
An off-field incident then forced the match to be suspended for around 15 minutes, however, the break didn’t affect the ‘Partenopei’s impetus. Piotr Zieliński took full advantage of a defensive lapse and hit an unstoppable shot past Ivan Provedel to register his first league goal since December. With the home side low on morale, Diego Demme and Andrea Petagna combined superbly in the penalty area, as the former received an amazing chipped assist from the latter before netting a banger. Spezia then saw Rey Manaj’s header disallowed due to offside, suppressing the home crowd’s excitement as they headed into HT with a three-goal deficit.
A host of substitutions on the hour mark prompted Spezia to modify their approach in a bid to avoid a defeat ‘to nil’, but Napoli looked extremely comfortable despite the hosts’ gradual approaches. On the pitch for the final 23 minutes, Spalletti introduced ‘Partenopei’ legend Insigne alongside Victor Osimhen and Dries Mertens, with the Belgian also quite possibly playing his final match for the club after nine seasons.
‘Aquilotti’ striker Manaj then wasted an amazing opportunity right at the death, failing to avoid a clean sheet defeat as he struck the crossbar with a venomous strike. Despite confirming Serie A safety during the previous matchday against Udinese, Spezia will take little inspiration from their final match of the season as they failed to eclipse last season’s 15th place finish. Napoli on the other hand, will need to start preparing avidly to better their third-placed finish next season.