Own goal gets runaway leaders Napoli back on track

Giovanni Di Lorenzo of SSC Napoli, Giacomo Raspadori of SSC Napoli celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Serie A match between US Lecce and SSC Napoli at Stadio Via del Mare on April 7, 2023 in Lecce, Italy.

Napoli have got back to winning ways as an own goal from goalkeeper Wladimiro Falcone handed them a 2-1 Serie A victory away at Lecce, pushing them a remarkable 19 points clear in the title race.

The leaders were thumped 4-0 at home by Milan last weekend, but they bounced back by overcoming a stubborn Lecce, who can probably count themselves unlucky not to come away with a share of the spoils on Friday.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo headed Napoli in front early on, but the hosts equalised not long after halftime when Federico Di Francesco thumped home with a fine finish.

But an own goal gave Luciano Spalletti’s men victory as Mario Rui’s teasing delivery came off Antonino Gallo, with Falcone only able to paw it over the line as Napoli resumed normal service.

The hosts had started brightly, Youssef Maleh forcing a great save from Alex Meret to palm over his rasping drive.

The visitors grew into the game though, and Di Lorenzo put them ahead in the 18th minute when he sent a powerful header from Kim Min-jae’s cross flying past Falcone.

A fingertip save from Falcone pushed Hirving Lozano’s low shot past the post to keep Napoli’s lead at just a single goal heading into the break, and Lecce levelled shortly after the interval.

A free-kick into the visitors’ box caused havoc, and Assan Ceesay saw a header come back off the bar before Di Francesco rifled into the bottom corner.

Napoli went on to win in bizarre fashion, though, as a mix-up between Gallo and Falcone from Mario Rui’s cross ended with the goalkeeper clawing into his own net to give the league leaders their 24th Serie A win of the campaign.

Earlier on Friday, Antonio Candreva scored a freak late equaliser to rescue a 1-1 draw for Salernitana and punish the profligacy of his former club Inter Milan at Stadio Arechi.

Inter were on course to end a dismal five-match winless run, but Candreva’s dramatic leveller ensured the wasteful visitors’ slump continued.

Simone Inzaghi’s side had taken the lead with a first goal from open play since March 5 as they netted early on through Robin Gosens.

Inter should have added several more as they created a host of chances and hit the frame of the goal twice, before Salernitana stunned them in the 90th minute when Candreva’s cross found the back of the net.

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