Napoli’s 100 per cent start to the Serie A season came to an end on Sunday with a goalless draw at Roma which halted their winning run at eight matches.
Napoli retake top spot in the Italian top flight but are level on 25 points with AC Milan following their hard-fought win at Bologna on Saturday.
The draw means Roma keep the record for the most wins from the start of a Serie A season, with 10 consecutive victories in 2013/14. Both sides will be ruing missed chances which could have decided a tight, at times poorly tempered, match between two rivals which saw both coaches sent off.
Roma boss Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands for dissent with nine minutes left while an incredulous Luciano Spalletti was shown a red card for what referee Davide Massa thought was sarcastic applause. It was a decent result for Roma, who needed a good showing following their six-goal humiliation at the hands of Norwegian outfit Bodo/Glimt in midweek.
“It’s a good point, we came here knowing Roma wanted to react after Thursday’s defeat and had their fans behind them,” Kouliblay said to DAZN. “The important thing was not concede, because we know that we can score at any moment. Not everyone can come here and keep a clean sheet.”
Roma striker Tammy Abraham should have opened the scoring in the 28th minute after being set clean through on goal by Bryan Cristante, but he could only roll a great chance wide. That was the best opportunity of the opening half, although Lorenzo Insigne shot over from a very presentable position shortly before half-time. The game opened up much more after the break, however, with Napoli striking the woodwork twice in three minutes around the hour mark.
Both times Victor Osimhen was involved, first forcing the ball onto the post via a deflection from Roma defender Roger Ibanez before his header from Piotr Zielinski’s corner. With Napoli on top, Roma responded with a clutch of chances of their own, with Lorenzo Pellegrini twice off target when in good positions.
However, the home fans had their heads in their hands when Gianluca Mancini headed a glorious chance wide with 18 minutes left, somehow failing to find the target when Pellegrini’s free-kick found him completely unmarked.
Osimhen then had a bullet header goal correctly ruled out for offside, and that was that before the players surrounded Massa at the final whistle and collected several yellow cards.
Giovanni Simeone struck all four goals as Verona hammered Lazio 4-1. Simeone, the son of former Lazio player and long-time Atletico Madrid coach Diego, struck twice in each half to sink Maurizio Sarri’s side, who briefly threatened when Ciro Immobile halved the deficit seconds after the break.
Verona move up to 11th on 11 points after starting the day hovering above the drop zone, while Lazio drop to eighth. Sarri had selected the great-grandson of the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, in his squad for the match, but did not play him. Defender Romano Floriani Mussolini, 18, came through the youth ranks at the club after previously playing for their local rivals Roma.
Fiorentina meanwhile are sixth on 15 points after recovering from two painful recent defeats with their 3-0 hammering of Cagliari. Vincenzo Italiano’s side had lost their last two matches against Napoli and promoted Venezia, with the latter provoking protests from fans which targeted striker Dusan Vlahovic.
The supporters at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence whistled their star forward before Sunday’s match because the Serb has not renewed his contract which is set to expire at the end of next season. Vlahovic, 21, refused to take the 21st-minute penalty which captain Cristiano Biraghi scored to put the hosts ahead. However, he did score his team’s third four minutes after the break following Nicolas Gonzalez’s strike which doubled their lead three minutes before half-time.