‘Sorry’ Koulibaly hands Juventus dramatic victory in seven-goal Napoli thriller - GulfToday

‘Sorry’ Koulibaly hands Juventus dramatic victory in seven-goal Napoli thriller


Cristiano Ronaldo runs with the ball during an Italian League match against Napoli on Saturday. Agence France-Presse

Kalidou Koulibaly handed Juventus a dramatic win on Saturday with a last-gasp own goal that consigned Napoli to a painful 4-3 Serie A defeat after his side had battled back from three goals down to level the scores.

The Senegal international shanked in Paulo Dybala’s free-kick under no pressure in the second minute of stoppage time to hand Juve the three points in Turin and put Maurizio Sarri’s side top with a maximum six points, leaving Napoli with nothing to show for their Herculean efforts.

“It’s an own goal that hurts me because it came after an incredible comeback,” Koulibaly later said on Twitter. “I’m sorry but I have to -- we have to accept it: we are strong. We have shown that. We’re going to prove it.”

Koulibaly’s blunder undid all of Napoli’s good work in fighting back from the dead with less than half-an-hour left, with goals from Danilo just 20 seconds after he came on as a substitute, Gonzalo Higuain -- back at Juventus after loan spells at AC Milan and Chelsea -- and Cristiano Ronaldo on 61 minutes giving the reigning champions what looked like an unassailable lead.

However two goals in as many minutes from Kostas Manolas and Hirving Lozano shortly after Ronaldo had made it three brought Napoli back into the game, and Giovanni Di Lorenzo sent the away fans wild with a close-range finish to set up a tense final nine minutes.

But with at least point seemingly in the bag, Koulibaly made it a nightmare end for Carlo Ancelotti’s men, who finished on the wrong end of a 4-3 scoreline after winning by the same margin at Fiorentina last weekend.

“It was a rollercoaster. We lost control of the game and got distracted, so they managed to equalise, but fortunately in the end we still won,” said Higuain, who spun Koulibaly before slamming home Juve’s superb second.

The champions made light of the absence of captain Giorgio Chiellini, out with anterior cruciate ligament knee injury, and Sarri, who is battling pneumonia and was not on the bench.

Ancelotti meanwhile was left to regret a “wasted opportunity” after losing in such gut-wrenching fashion.

“It was not a positive performance. The first hour we didn’t do well. But despite the 3-0 we stayed in the game, we came back,” said Ancelotti.

“Juventus have so much character and quality, we know that they always step up in the important moments of the season.

“We wasted an opportunity today.”

Meanwhile, Italy coach Roberto Mancini on Sunday called up Inter Milan defender Danilo D’Ambrosio to replace injured juventus left-back Mattia De Sciglio for next week’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Armenia and Finland.

De Sciglio, 26, picked up a muscular problem during Saturday’s 4-3 Serie A win for the Italian champions over Napoli.

Mancini had already been forced into another change after Juve captain Giorgio Chiellini, 35, tore a ligament in his right knee, an issue that will keep the defender out for around six months.

The 103-times capped Chiellini had made way for Lazio centre-back Francesco Acerbi. Italy will play Armenia in Yerevan on Thursday, then visit Finland next Sunday.

Agence France-Presse

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