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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Napoli win thanks also to the ref

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

2022-2023 Season

Game 5

September 3, 2022

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Rome, Stadio Olimpico

Lazio Napoli 1-2

Official SS Lazio photo

Napoli come from behind to beat Lazio but the Biancocelesti are certainly not happy with the referee.

The teams

Surprisingly Maurizio Sarri confirms the 11 that drew with Sampdoria. “I want to give the team an identity before I start to rotate players”, he said before the match. Luciano Spalletti after doing too much turnover in the game drawn at home with Lecce, goes back to the formation of the first three games of the season.

Lazio in front early

Lazio score almost immediately. In the 4th minute Felipe Anderson goes down on the right and sends the ball across. Mattia Zaccagni picks it up just outside the penalty box, controls it, shoots. 1-0 for Lazio.

At this point Lazio stop playing and hand over the control of the game to Napoli who however do nothing in the first 30 minutes. After that, it’s an onslaught.

In the 34th minute Sergej Milinkovi-Savic loses the ball outside the penalty box, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia goes in and shoots but Ivan Provedel saves. Three minutes later the Georgian receives the ball half way in the Lazio half, goes forward, shoots and hits the woodwork.

Napoli’s goal is coming. Corner kick for the Neapolitans, Piotr Zielinski crosses the ball in, Kim Min-jae pushes Luis Alberto away and heads the ball onto the inside post. Provedel manages to push the ball out but the Goal Line Technology says the ball is over the line.

Foul? “Kim pushes Luis Alberto away so he has no opposition when he heads the ball. If this was done before the corner was kicked, then it had to be repeated. If this was done after, then it's a free kick for Lazio”, said Sarri at the end of the game. A similar goal by Monza was disallowed a few weeks ago, but not this one.

In the 44th minute Adam Marusic and Hirving Lozano clash heads jumping for the ball. Big cut for the Lazio player but he can continue, the Mexican however is forced to leave the pitch. He is replaced by Matteo Politano.

Napoli onslaught

Can Lazio reorganise in the second half and start playing again? No. In the 48th minute Politano gets past Marusic and rushes towards the Lazio penalty box. Ball to Kvaratskhelia but Provedel saves. Two minutes later, the Georgian crosses for Zielinski and Provedel saves again. Another two minutes and Giovanni Di Lorenzo crosses for Victor Osimhen who is anticipated by Patric. The ball is still in the air and this time it’s the Nigerian who anticipates the Spaniard. Lazio are saved by the woodwork again. In the 51st minute Zielinski sends the ball in to Kvaratskhelia who shoots wide from a very favourable position.

Lazio have to change something and so in the 53rd minute in come Matias Vecino and Pedro for Luis Alberto and Zaccagni. Napoli look as if they are taking their foot off the accelerator but it’s just an illusion.

In the 62nd minute Politano sends in Andre Anguissa on the right of the penalty box. He looks up and passes the ball in the middle for Kvaratskhelia who smashes the ball in. Napoli ahead.

Controversy, again

At this point Lazio wake up. They timidly gain control of possession and start creating some danger. In the 67th minute Felipe Anderson passes the ball to Manuel Lazzari in the penalty box. The Lazio right-back is faster than Mario Rui, the Portuguese knows it, so to stop him he uses his elbow. Penalty? No.

Was it a penalty? Without any doubt. Why did VAR not intervene? According to the refereeing experts on Italian media, VAR could not intervene as since the ref did not have his vision impaired he had no problem in effectively evaluating what had happened. But, as Sarri pointed out, “If the referee fucks up, VAR has to intervene”. Sounds logical. Just a few days ago in Genoa, VAR called the referee and asked him to evaluate on the video screen a potential penalty for Sampdoria despite the fact that the ref had clearly decided it was not a penalty. So, who is getting it wrong? There is another hypothesis but we’ll talk about that later.

The game goes quiet. Lazio attack but confusedly and Napoli try the counter attack without much profit. The Biancazzurri have two chances: in the 71st minute Danilo Cataldi takes a free kick and crosses the ball into the box. Felipe Anderson’s backward header is saved by Alex Meret. In the first minute of injury time Pedro’s shot is just wide.

What Sarri said

At the end of the game Sarri had some very harsh words for the referee. “He is either bad at his job or there is something else. From the beginning of the season the referees are biased against us. They have even told us as much. In Turin the referee said to me that we protested too much in the match against Bologna and therefore we should expect to be punished. They keep booking us and even today we have too many players with yellow cards. Something must be done by the governing body.”

By the way, the referee for Torino Lazio was Michael Fabbri. He was in charge of VAR tonight. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck …

Napoli deserved to win. They were the better team. But …

Official SS Lazio photo

Who played for Lazio

Provedel, Lazzari (83' Hysaj), Patric, Romagnoli, Marusic, Milinkovic-Savic, Cataldi (75' Basic), Luis Alberto (53' Vecino), Felipe Anderson (83' Cancellieri), Immobile, Zaccagni (53' Pedro).

Substitutes: Luis Maximiano, Adamonis, Casale, Gila, Radu, Kamenovic, Marcos Antonio, Bertini, Romero.

Manager: Sarri

Who played for Napoli

Meret, Di Lorenzo, Rrahamani, Kim, Mario Rui (90'+2' Olivera), Anguissa, Lobotka (90'+2' Ndombele), Zielinski (68' Elmas), Lozano (45'+3' Politano), Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia (68' Raspadori).

Substitutes: Sirigu, Marfella, Juan Jesus, Ostigard, Zanoli, Zerbin, Simeone, Gaetano.

Manager: Spalletti

Referee: Sozza

Goals: 4' Zaccagni, 37' Kim, 61' Kvaratskhelia

Bookings: Milinkovic-Savic, Cataldi, Felipe Anderson, Marusic


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