Koulibaly scores brace as Napoli delay Juventus’ title celebrations - GulfToday

Koulibaly scores brace as Napoli delay Juventus’ title celebrations


Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly in action during their Italian League match against Chievo in Verona on Sunday. Reuters

Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly bagged a brace as Napoli beat Chievo 3-1 to delay Juventus’ bid to win Serie A and condemn the Verona side to relegation.

Juventus — who lost 2-1 at SPAL on Saturday as they focused on Champions League game against Ajax — needed just a point to seal an eighth consecutive Serie A title.

They would have if Carlo Ancelotti’s second-placed Napoli failed to beat Chievo, and it would have been a new record of winning with six games to spare.

But towering Senegalese defender Koulibaly scored either side of Arkadiusz Milik’s strike for his first league goals this season to put Napoli 17 points behind Juventus.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side will have to wait at least until next weekend at home against Fiorentina to seal the Scudetto with a record-equalling five matches remaining.

“This victory takes a bit of weight off our shoulders,” said Ancelotti, ahead of next week’s Europa League quarter-final, return leg game against Arsenal where they trail 2-0.

Koulibaly headed in the opening goal in the 15th minute with Milik adding a second on 64 minutes.

Koulibaly added a third with nine minutes left for the first double of his professional career, before captain Cesar pulled one back for Chievo just before the final whistle.

“There has been a lot of fear and tension. After Milik’s goal we loosened up a bit,” said Ancelotti whose side had also gone two league games without a victory.

“We are angry. We want to show another face of Napoli,” added Koulibaly.

Chievo -- who had been deducted three points early in the season for false accounting -- return to Serie B after 11 straight years in the top flight.

Inter Milan consolidated third position with a 3-1 win over second-from-bottom Frosinone, to move five points ahead of city rivals AC Milan, who are fourth.

Radja Nainggolan headed in the opener on 19 minutes with Ivan Perisic converting a penalty eight minutes before the break and Matias Vecino adding a third three minutes into injury time.

Meanwhile, Inter Milan recorded a 3-1 win away at relegation battling Frosinone to strengthen their grip on third place in Serie A.

Luciano Spalletti’s side were under pressure to deliver a result in order to avoid being dragged into a tight race for Champions League qualification, after AS Roma and AC Milan won on Saturday.

A header from Radja Nainggolan and an Ivan Perisic penalty in the first half put Inter in control before Francesco Cassata pulled one back for Frosinone as they improved after the break.

However, Matias Vecino’s stoppage-time strike sealed a win that keeps the visitors five points clear of Milan in fourth place with six rounds remaining in the league season.

Inter have 60 points, giving them breathing space from a tight-knit chasing pack of Milan (55), Roma (54), Atalanta (52), Torino (50) and Lazio (49). Atalanta and Lazio both have a game in hand.


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