Napoli fans hailed the return of their Serie A title-winning heroes on Sunday as Victor Osimhen shot Napoli to a 1-0 win over Fiorentina in their first home match since being crowned kings of Italy for the first time in 33 years.
Nigeria striker Osimhen lashed home the winning penalty in the 74th minute, after missing from the spot just after half-time, to take his league-leading tally to 23 just a few days after netting the goal which sealed Napoli’s third Scudetto with a record-equalling five matches to play.
The 24-year-old is now the highest scoring African player in the history of Serie A after overtaking George Weah and lapped up the applause of Napoli fans as the team did their post-match lap of honour.
“I had the confidence I would score the second one. It’s a good feeling to get the goal,”Said Osimhen to DAZN.
A party mood has enveloped Naples since Thursday’s draw in Udine, and on Sunday afternoon fans let off fireworks and flares in the jammed streets around the stadium named after their icon Diego Maradona on a gorgeous sunny day in southern Italy.
Packed bars and restaurants did a roaring trade with locals and tourists alike decked out in blue as a festive but relaxed mood dominated the city.
Before kick-off supporters put on a display of the Italian flag with the number three in honour of their title wins and hailed their team with loud chants of “we are the champions”.
But once the match got underway a torpor slowly washed over the ground, not helped by two teams with nothing to play for going through the motions and Napoli creating next to nothing.
However Osimhen saved the day when Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s weaving dribble towards goal was stopped illegally by Nicolas Gonzalez and the striker duly punished Fiorentina.
Flares were lit all around the ground and blue smoke filled the air to hail a win which takes Napoli’s massive lead at the top of the table to 17 points over detested rivals Juventus.
The team were greeted with huge cheers from the crowd as the players trotted around the stadium’s athletics track, taking it in turns to give piggy backs to Hirving Lozano who suffered a potentially serious knee injury towards the end of the first half.
Supporters in the ground were then treated to music from local pop stars while Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino cut through an over-the-top spectacle which featured flames, powerful fire works, a light show and a pulsating electronic Italian flag flashing on the running track.
“We’ve won this Scudetto because Maradona showed us how it’s done,”Said Sorrentino to warm applause.
Owner Aurelio De Laurentiis promised that Napoli would try to win the Champions League next season and that Napoli needed to “repeat, repeat, repeat, win, win and win”, before the team and then coach Luciano Spalletti were called out one by one.
“It must be true that Naples is the city of miracles because if it can help me win a title then anything can be done,” joked Spalletti, who has crowned a long career with his first Scudetto.
“If there were a way to transmit the joy here tonight you could light up every stadium in Serie A.”
Juve are second after a 2-0 win at fellow Champions League chasers Atalanta, whose fans racially abused goalscorer Dusan Vlahovic.
Serbia forward Vlahovic finished the job deep in stoppage time and then goaded a section of the home supporters after having previously being insulted as a “gypsy”, abuse which had led to the match being briefly stopped by referee Daniele Doveri.
“Unfortunately these chants keep happening, they need to be fought against,”Said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri to DAZN.
Juve, who host Sevilla in the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday, are two points ahead of Lazio who lost at AC Milan on Saturday and, as things stand, have a good chance of making the Champions League next season.
Allegri’s side are five points in front of fifth-placed Milan but their hopes of qualifying for Europe’s top club competition through league placing depend on an Italian Football Federation (FIGC) ruling on alleged illicit transfer activity.
Last month Italy’s highest sporting court revoked a 15-point penalty inflicted on Juve in January by the FIGC’s appeals tribunal, who have to come to a new judgement.