Naples was firmly in party mode prior to kick-off, as the final 90 minutes of a barnstorming campaign was all that stood between the city’s premier club lifting the coveted Serie A trophy for the first time in 33 years. This was against 20th-placed Sampdoria, so on the surface it would appear to be the perfect opportunity to cap off a special season with victory.
In the first half however, the hosts displayed a lack of intensity that has seen them drop points in two of four matches since confirming their top-of-the-table status, retaining 81% possession but only producing one shot on target. This came via Osimhen, whose headed effort inside the opening 10 minutes was saved by Martin Turk.
Tasked with dampening the atmosphere inside the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona was Naples-born and former Gli Azzurri striker Fabio Quagliarella, in what may be his final match in Italy’s top-flight. The 40-year-old was presented with a headed opportunity of his own midway through the opening 45 minutes, though spurned it by heading wide unmarked at the back post inside six yards.
The miss would ultimately prove costly for the visitors, as after half-time Nicola Murru committed the cardinal sin of sliding from behind in his own penalty area, bringing down Osimhen and allowing the Nigerian to put his side in front from the penalty spot with his 26th strike of the campaign.
Moments later, Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa came inches away from doubling the champion’s lead, seeing his half-volley from 12 yards beaten away on the line by Turk. Nobody in the stadium seemed to mind, however, as they were in pandemonium from Osimhen’s goal, comfortable in the knowledge their side were on course for a ninth consecutive head-to-head victory, and of course the impending title celebrations.
Simeone replaced Napoli’s goalscorer from the bench in the closing stages and added an astounding goal of his own from long range into the top-right corner, bringing down the curtain on a glorious campaign for his side and poignantly handing manager Luciano Spalletti the perfect send-off from his post.