Napoli Edge Out Juventus on Penalties To Clinch 2020 Coppa Italia Trophy

Goalkeeper  Alex Meret was the hero as Napoli defeated Juventus 4-2 on penalties to  win the Coppa Italia title after a barren draw at the Stadio Olimpico.

 

Arkadiusz Milik scored the winning spot-kick after Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret saved Paulo Dybala’s effort and watched Danilo’s strike sail over his crossbar.

 

The result means Juve boss Maurizio Sarri’s wait for a first major domestic honour goes on, with Napoli securing their first piece of silverware since 2014.

Juventus will look to overcome the disappointment by lifting a ninth straight Scudetto when Serie A restarts, but the win means Napoli automatically qualify for the Europa League group stage next season.

Player ratings

Napoli: Meret (7), Rui, Maksimovic (7), Di Lorenzo (7), Koulibaly (7), Demme (6), Ruiz (6), Zielinski (6), Callejon (5), Mertens (5), Insigne (6).

Subs: Hysaj (n/a), Allan (n/a), Elmas (n/a), Politano (6), Milik (6).

Juventus: Buffon (7), De Ligt (6), Sandro (6), Cuadrado, Bonucci (6), Pjanic (5), Dybala (7), Costa (5), Matuidi (5), Bentancur (6), Ronaldo (6).

Subs: Danilo (5), Ramsey (n/a), Bernardeschi (5).

The nearly 35,000 who died from COVID-19 in Italy could have filled half of the 70,000-seat Stadio Olimpico, and Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso overcame a personal tragedy to be present after his sister Francesca recently lost her battle with cancer at the age of 37.

Remarkably during his 30-year managerial career, Sarri has only won the Coppa Italia Serie D with Sansovino.

The former Chelsea boss was seen cutting a lonely figure as he cherished his Europa League medal 13 months ago, but back in his native Italy, success over his former club would have ranked high among his modest set of achievements.

 

When Juventus were beaten by Napoli in Serie A in February, Sarri angered sections of the Old Lady fanbase having said that if he had to lose to anyone, he was glad it was his former club.

But after being beaten by Lazio in the Supercoppa Italiana final in December, questions will linger over whether he is the right fit at a club renowned for being serial winners.

The challenge since Gattuso arrived in Naples as Carlo Ancelotti’s successor has been marrying style with substance. A first piece of silverware since the Supercoppa Italiana success in 2014 was on offer, and his side went closest to breaking the deadlock in the opening 45 minutes.

Lorenzo Insigne struck the frame of the woodwork with his 25-yard free kick after 24 minutes, before Diego Demme’s shot was saved by the legs of Gianluigi Buffon. It was Insigne again who went close on the stroke of half-time as he first saw a shot cleared from underneath the crossbar by Alex Sandro before testing Buffon from range.

Juventus, despite their dominance of possession, created few opportunities in the first period with an error from Jose Callejon enabling Rodrigo Bentancur to test Meret from distance, but chances were at a premium during a cagey affair.

After the interval, Matteo Politano was wasteful when he lifted his shot over from Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s centre as both managers began to ring the changes.

Leonardo Bonucci and Dybala produced speculative efforts from distance that failed to trouble Meret, but Juventus were indebted to Buffon just when it seemed the game looked destined for penalties.

Federico Bernardeschi conceded a sloppy corner in the second minute of stoppage time, which was met by defender Nikola Maksimovic at the far post forcing Buffon into a fine save low to his right, and the veteran stopper was able to divert the rebound from Elif Elmas onto the post.

The match was inevitably decided from 12 yards, and after Juventus missed their first two penalties, Milik made no mistake to secure the victory for Napoli.

How the shootout was decided

 
Napoli Juventus
Insigne scored Dybala missed
Politano scored Danilo missed
Maksimovic scored Bonucci scored
Milik scored Ramsey scored

Gattuso arrived at a splintered, fractured club when he arrived last December but a sign of the unity he has brought in a short space of time was typified by the performance of Meret in his first Coppa Italia appearance of the season.

David Ospina needlessly got himself suspended in the semi-final win over Inter Milan, but Meret stepped up to the occasion by making vital early saves before denying Dybala in the shootout.

Juventus travel to face Bologna as they resume their quest for a ninth successive Serie A title on Monday at 8.45pm. Napoli – who are sixth – travel to Verona the following evening (kick-off: 6.30pm).

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