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Napoli v Juventus Live Commentary, 2017/04/02

FT
1 - 1
NAP
JUV
M. Hamšík (60)
S. Khedira (7)
Stadio Diego Armando Maradona

Commentary

The draw means that Juventus now sit six points clear of Roma at the top of the Serie A table heading into next weekend's clash against Chievo, whilst Napoli have closed the gap between themselves and the Giallorossi to four points ahead of their game away to Lazio in seven days' time.
Napoli will no doubt feel slightly disappointed at not being able to leave with three points after playing so well this evening, but they can certainly be proud of how they performed. They initially struggled to get the better of a well-organised Juventus back line before finally carving it open, and from then onwards they caused the league leaders plenty of problems with some wonderfully impressive play inside the final third of the pitch.
FULL-TIME: NAPOLI 1-1 JUVENTUS
90' + 3' Napoli scream for a penalty! A curling cross sails into the heart of the Juventus box and finds Mertens, who goes down under a pull from Lichtsteiner. There are calls for a penalty from the home fans but the referee isn't at all interested and waves play on. That should be that...
90' + 2' Ghoulam is fouled from behind by Cuadrado and Napoli are awarded a free-kick just inside the Juventus half of the pitch. It's taken quickly and sent short to Mertens, but the Belgian is penalised for a push on Bonucci as he tries to beat the centre-back.
90' The fourth official has indicated that there will be three minutes of added time. Can either side find a late, late winner?
89' What a chance for Callejon! A deep lofted pass from Zielinski sails over to the far post and finds Callejon in a great position, but the Spaniard is unable to hit the target from a tight angle and Juventus are just about able to hold on.
T. Rincón
M. Pjanić
Juventus
87' Pjanic makes way for Tomas Rincon in Juventus' third and final substitution of the evening.
86' It's all Juventus at the moment as they patiently knock the ball around inside their own half of the pitch. They're trying their best to run down the clock, but Napoli are still showing great intensity as they press high up the pitch.
84' Great tackle by Bonucci! Mertens picks up the ball in the middle of the pitch and immediately flies forward on a quick counter-attack, but Bonucci is there to dispossess the Belgian with a strong tackle just outside of the Juventus box.
82' Napoli move the ball around nicely midway inside the Juventus half of the pitch as they try to carve out a late chance on goal, but Zielinski brings a promising move to a disappointing end with a poor pass that misses Ghoulam and rolls out for a throw-in.
P. Dybala
C. Marchisio
Juventus
80' Meanwhile, Juventus have replaced Marchisio with Paulo Dybala for the final 10 minutes.
F. Ghoulam
I. Strinić
Napoli
79' Napoli have made another late alteration, with Faouzi Ghoulam coming on to take the place of Strinic.
78' Rog immediately gets himself into the thick of the action and tries to test Buffon from 30 yards out with an audacious strike, but, unsurprisingly, the youngster's long-range effort fails to trouble the veteran goalkeeper and bobbles comfortably wide of its intended target.
M. Rog
M. Hamšík
Napoli
76' Hamsik seems to be struggling with a slight injury and is forced off to be replaced by Marko Rog.
75' Poor play by Mertens! He's left in a pocket of space over on the left-hand side of the Juventus penalty area and decides to shoot instead of setting up Callejon, and it proves to be the wrong choice as his strike is easily blocked and cleared by Lichtsteiner. Callejon looks absolutely furious!
74' Hamsik breaks away quickly after another Juventus attacking move comes to a premature end. The captain does well to set up Mertens after reaching the halfway line, but the Belgian is unable to control the ball and loses it quickly.
72' Kwadwo Asamoah is pulled back by Callejon over on the left flank, resulting in a free-kick for Juventus in a promising position. It's whipped in by Pjanic and causes a few problems for the Napoli defenders, but Rafael does well to collect the ball under plenty of pressure.
70' Juventus have created few chances on goal since the break, but they're slowly starting to get back into the game. Khedira picks up the ball over on the left wing and quickly whips a cross into the heart of the Napoli penalty area, but it's unable to pick out Higuain and is well defended by the home side.
P. Zieliński
Allan
Napoli
69' Napoli have made a change, and it's an attack-minded one, with Piotr Zielinski coming on to replace Allan.
67' Ouch! Chiellini dives into Mertens as he tries to beat the Belgian to a bouncing loose ball. He's able to do so but receives an accidental elbow to the face from the forward, leaving him in serious discomfort on the ground. It looks as if he's going to be able to continue though.
65' The goal seems to have shaken Juventus, who don't look as defensively solid as they did earlier in the game. They're starting to let some sloppiness creep into their game at the back, and Napoli are doing well to make them pay with their high and intense pressing.
63' Mertens hits the post! A poor back-pass from Bonucci causes problems for Buffon, who isn't able to get a foot on the ball before Mertens dives in. The Belgian's poked effort rolls past the goalkeeper and towards the near post, where he's unable to make it 2-1 with a shot from a very tight angle.
J. Cuadrado
M. Lemina
Juventus
61' Juventus have made their first substitution of the evening, with Lemina making way for Juan Cuadrado.
D. Mertens
Assist
Napoli
60' That was wonderfully done by Mertens, who showed great vision to play a one-two with Hamsik. The Belgian has played brilliantly this evening and set up the midfielder in fantastic fashion.
M. Hamšík
Goal
Napoli
60' GOAL! There it is! Napoli have equalised! Hamsik cuts inside from the right and picks out Mertens, who then sends the ball back to the captain with a lovely pass. He's completely alone in front of goal and immediately fires a brilliant first-time strike past the outstretched limbs of Buffon and into the top right-hand corner of the net.
58' Mertens twists and turns as he weaves his way through the middle of the pitch. He does well to carve out a pocket of space for himself before unleashing a shot, but it's quickly closed down by Chiellini and fails to find a way past the centre-back.
56' Callejon scores, but it's ruled out! Hamsik darts towards the box before teeing up Mertens, who immediately unleashes a rocket of a low shot. It's saved by Buffon but spilled into the path of Callejon, who pokes the ball into the back of the net from close range just as the linesman's flag is rightly raised for offside.
55' Strinic cuts inside from the left flank and quickly tries to tee up Insigne with a chipped pass up towards the edge of the Juventus penalty area, but it's slightly overhit and is well defended by the visitors' back line once again.
53' Napoli continue knocking the ball around patiently deep inside the Juventus half of the pitch as they desperately try to find an equaliser. It's so congested in the middle though, and they're becoming increasingly frustrated as they fail to get the better of the well-organised league leaders.
51' Insigne goes close! Once again, he cuts inside from the left wing and skips into the Juventus penalty area before shooting, but his curling shot sails agonisingly wide of the far post. He's getting closer...
50' Hysaj battles his way down the right flank as he tries to get the better of Mandzukic, but the Croatian forward, who has defended really well this evening, dispossesses the the Albanian with another well-timed tackle.
48' Early chance for Lemina! Higuain ignores the whistles and jeers from the Napoli fans as he ploughs through the middle of the pitch. He does well to reach the penalty area and then tees up Lemina, but the midfielder's thumping shot is poorly hit and sails well wide of the goal.
46' We're underway once again!
The two teams are making their way back out on to the pitch ahead of the start of the second half. Neither side have made any substitutions during the half-time break.
It was a frustrating first half for the home side, who dominated possession but struggled to find a way back into the game after going behind early on. Juventus seem content to sit deep and soak up the pressure before hitting Napoli on the break, and so far they've done that brilliantly. Insigne has looked bright over on the left flank but too often has overhit his attempted crosses, whilst, in the middle, Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci have defended resolutely to limit Mertens' chances on goal.
HALF-TIME: NAPOLI 0-1 JUVENTUS
45' + 1' Juventus push forward on one last attacking move as they try to double their lead before the half-time break, but Lichtsteiner's looping cross from the right wing fails to find a team-mate and is easily headed away by Albiol in the middle of the Napoli box.
45' The fourth official has indicated that there will be just one minute of added time.
44' Mertens drifts out to the right and picks up the ball in a pocket of space before whipping a dangerous cross into the penalty area. It flies just over the head of Callejon before meeting Stephan Lichtsteiner, who has no choice but to concede a corner that, once again, Buffon clears with a punch.
42' Mandzukic, who has seen little of the ball in advanced areas due to the pressure being put on him by the Napoli wingers, bursts down the left wing and takes on Hysaj, but it's the Albanian who comes out on top with a great piece of defending.
40' What a chance for Insigne! The forward links up brilliantly with Allan as he picks up the ball in between the lines. He takes a quick first touch and darts into the box before shooting, but his curling effort ends up flying just wide of the far post after leaving Buffon rooted to the spot in the middle of the goal.
39' Callejon and Elseid Hysaj link up really well over on the right-hand side of the Juventus penalty area before the latter cuts into the box and fizzes a dangerous pass across the face of goal. There's nobody there to meet it, however, and the visitors are able to hold on once again.
L. Insigne
Yellow Card
Napoli
37' Insigne berates the referee after a decision doesn't go his way and receives a yellow card for dissent. He certainly seems frustrated at not being able to find a way through Juventus' well-organised back line.
36' Insigne, who has looked bright over on the left flank, cuts inside on another good run before trying to tee up Mertens with a looping cross, but he puts far too much power behind the pass and sends it several yards away from the striker.
34' Big chance for Mertens! This time it's the Belgian who's presented with a great opportunity to equalise for Napoli after weaving his way into the Juventus box, but his low strike is poor and flies straight into the hands of Buffon.
32' Napoli are bossing possesion but Juventus will certainly be happy with how the game is panning out. The hosts are struggling to cause many problems for the visitors' back line, which has remained incredibly resolute so far.
30' Another opportunity for Hamsik! Napoli keep bossing possession before a dangerous cross is fired in from the right wing. It deflects off Insigne and bounces out to Hamsik, who then unleashes a rocket of a strike that flies just a few yards wide of the goal.
28' Napoli move the ball around well before Allan tries to find a way into the Juventus penalty area, but, as has been the case since the start of the night, he's kept at bay by a wall of blue and is quickly dispossessed.
26' Gonzalo Higuain picks up the ball in the middle of the pitch and is immediately showered in boos and whistles. He hasn't yet been presented with any chances on goal but he's impressed with his hold up play against a high-pressing Napoli back line.
24' Mario Mandzukic and Raul Albiol battle for the ball deep down the left flank, and it's the striker who comes out on top by winning a corner. It's curled into the penalty area by Pjanic and almost finds a blue shirt, but Koulibaly is there to beat them all to the ball.
22' The resulting corner loops into the heart of the Juventus box and finds Koulibaly, who easily rises high above his marker. He makes contact with the ball and nods it down towards Mertens, but the Belgian accidentally handles it as he tries to get the better of Buffon.
21' And now Callejon goes close! A lovely cross from Insigne looks set to find Callejon in a pocket of space in front of goal, but just as he's about to get a head on the ball, Chiellini beats the Spaniard to it at the vital moment.
20' Chance for Marek Hamsik! Chiellini passes the ball straight to Allan, who quickly cuts inside and chips a cross over to Mertens. The Belgian meets it well and chests the ball down to Hamsik, who snatches at his first-time shot and sends it bouncing several yards wide of the near post.
18' Napoli patiently pass the ball around inside the Juventus half of the pitch as they desperately try to find a way through the sea of blue shirts camped in front of them. Mertens eventually tries to dart through the middle of the group, but he's quickly closed down and dispossessed on the edge of the box.
16' Juventus push forward down the left wing and win themselves a corner of their own. It's sent short to Claudio Marchisio, who then whips a cross into the box that's well defended by Napoli. They can only clear the ball as far as Chiellini, but the centre-back brings an end to a promising attacking move with a wild volley that sails high and wide of the goal.
15' Pjanic loses possession just inside the Juventus half of the pitch and allows Ivan Strinic to plough forward down the left flank. The full-back is put under pressure by Lemina inside the box but does well to earn the hosts another corner. It's punched away again by Buffon, however, as the veteran goalkeeper is able to get a strong fist to the ball.
13' Napoli move the ball around patiently inside the Juventus half of the pitch before Insigne eventually fires a swinging cross towards Dries Mertens in the heart of the penalty area. The pass is overhit, however, and fails to pick out the Belgian in front of goal.
11' A lofted pass is thumped into the Juventus box but can only find Chiellini, who then nods the ball out for a corner over on the left wing. A curling cross is whipped into the heart of the penalty area, but Buffon is there to punch the ball away from danger with a strong fist.
9' Napoli quickly push forward from the restart before Insigne cuts inside from the left flank once again. This time he decides to shoot from 25 yards out, but his bouncing strike is sent straight into the hands of Buffon at the near post.
M. Pjanić
Assist
Juventus
7' That was a lovely little flick from Pjanic to tee up Khedira but the run from the Germany international was excellent. He looked unstoppable as he ploughed his way through a sea of white and blue shirts.
S. Khedira
Goal
Juventus
7' GOAL! What a start by Juventus! Sami Khedira picks up the ball midway inside the Napoli half of he pitch and immediately charges towards the penalty area. He muscles his way past two players before playing a quick one-two with Miralem Pjanic, who perfectly sets up the German to fire a great shot under Rafael and into the back of the net.
5' Almost a chance for Jose Callejon! Lorenzo Insigne finds himself in a pocket of space over on the left wing and cuts inside quickly before lifting a clever pass into the box. It bounces past Giorgio Chiellini and towards Callejon, but Gianluigi Buffon is just about able to reach the ball before the Spaniard.
3' After an even start to the game from both sides, Mario Lemina picks up the ball over on the right flank and flies down the wing on a promising run. He skips past one tackle before taking on Kalidou Koulibaly, but the defender stands firm and denies the midfielder a way through to the penalty area.
1' We're off! Juventus get us underway, attacking from right to left.
The two sides are making their way out onto the pitch, with just a few minutes to go until kick-off. The atmosphere inside the stadium is electric, with both sets of fans in fine voice.
Meanwhile, Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri has made five alterations to the team that featured in their last outing, with Dani Alves, Andrea Barzagli, Daniele Rugani, Juan Cuadrado and Paulo Dybala making way for Stephan Lichtsteiner, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Claudio Marchisio and Mario Lemina.
Maurizio Sarri has decided to make three changes to the Napoli side that started the victory away to Empoli before the international break, with Rafael, Kalidou Koulibaly and Ivan Strinic coming into the starting line-up to replace Pepe Reina, Vlad Chiriches and Faouzi Ghoulam, respectively.
Juventus substitutes: Benatia, Cuadrado, Sandro, Barzagli, Dybala, Alves, Rugani, Neto, Sturaro, Rincon, Audero, Mandragora.
Juventus XI (4-2-3-1): Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chielini, Asamoah; Khedira, Marchisio; Lemina, Pjanic, Mandzukic, Higuain.
Napoli substitutes: Giaccherini, Maggio, Maksimovic, Zielinski, Chiriches, Sepe, Reina, Rog, Ghoulam, Pavoletti, Diawara, Milik.
Napoli XI (4-3-3): Rafael; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Strinic; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejon, Mertens, Insigne.
There’s just over 15 minutes left to go until kick-off, so let’s have a look at how the two teams will be lining up this evening…
Napoli remain in a fierce fight for second place with Roma, who comfortably beat Empoli last night to open up a five-point gap between the two sides. The Partenopei head into this evening’s big clash in impressive form, with just one defeat from their previous 18 league games. However, they’ll be well aware that both of their last two games against Juventus have ended in victories for their opponents, meaning that today’s contest is set to be another incredibly tough one.
Despite the nature of their opponents, Juventus will certainly be confident about their chances of leaving with another victory. Since shifting to a 4-2-3-1 formation after losing away to Fiorentina, Massimiliano Allegri’s men have won nine of their last 10 league games, scoring 19 goals and conceding just three times during that impressive run.
For the first time since making the move to Juventus, Gonzalo Higuain has made the trip south to the San Paolo to be reunited with his former team-mates in what should prove to be a fiery contest. The Argentine has scored 19 Serie A goals this season but hasn’t hit the back of the net since February, and he’ll have to be at his best today if his side are to re-establish their eight-point lead at the top of the table.
There are few games that are more exciting that Napoli-Juventus, and that has certainly been the case this season. The two teams have already met each other twice, with the Old Lady coming away with wins on both occasions, but today’s big clash in Naples should be an incredibly tight affair. It’s also the first of two meetings in just four days, with the second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final taking place on Wednesday evening.
Good evening and welcome to our live text commentary of today’s Serie A game between Napoli and Juventus at the Stadio San Paolo.