Napoli new man Kvaratskhelia stars in win


Khvicha Kvaratskhelia of SSC Napoli looks at the ball during the Serie A match between Hellas Verona and SSC Napoli at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi on August 15, 2022 in Verona, Italy.

New signing Khvicha Kvaratskhelia could help Napoli forget about all the players that left in the off-season.

The 21-year-old Kvaratskhelia, who was signed from Georgian club Dinamo Batumi last month, provided a goal and an assist to help Napoli win 5-2 at Verona in their opening match of the new Serie A season.

The victory was marred by reports of racist chanting directed at Napoli's Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen.

Later Juventus cruised past Sassuolo 3-0 with a Dusan Vlahovic double meaning all the likely title contenders have begun with a win.

Napoli finished third last season, but there were question marks following the departure of key players such as captain Lorenzo Insigne, all-time leading scorer Dries Mertens and defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

They dominated from the start in Verona but it was the home team that took the lead in the 29th minute. Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret managed to fingertip Martin Hongla's effort over the bar but the resulting corner was nodded on to the far post for Kevin Lasagna to volley in.

Andre Anguissa almost levelled in the 34th but his header came off the left post. Napoli did equalise three minutes later when Kvaratskhelia headed in Hirving Lozano's cross.

The turnaround was complete on the stroke of half-time with a goal similar to Verona's opener as a Napoli corner was headed on for Osimhen to volley in at the far post.

There were reports of racist chanting coming from Verona fans and Osimhen, who is Black, responded by pretending to cry.

Thomas Henry headed in the equaliser for Verona almost immediately after the break but it was all Napoli from then on.

The visitors restored their lead in the 55th when Kvaratskhelia touched on a through ball with a fantastic pass for Piotr Zielinski, who slotted into the bottom right corner.

Stanislav Lobotka and substitute Matteo Politano sealed the result, while Adam Ounas also had a goal ruled out for Napoli seconds after coming off the bench.

Juve opened the scoring against Sassuolo in the 26th minute through Angel Di Maria. The Argentine volleyed Alex Sandro's cross into the ground with the bounce taking it over stranded goalkeeper Andrea Consigli.

Vlahovic doubled Juve's lead with a penalty in the 43rd minute, awarded after Gian Marco Ferrari prevented the Serbia international from scoring by holding him back with both arms.

The 22-year-old Vlahovic got his second in the 51st when he pounced to score from a Di Maria assist after a poor clearance.


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