NAPLES, Nov 19 — Lorenzo Insigne washed away his World Cup woes by starring in Napoli’s 2-1 victory over a struggling but spirited AC Milan yesterday that saw the Serie A leaders go four points clear.
Insigne opened the scoring in the 33rd minute, albeit in controversial fashion, helping Maurizio Sarri’s team extend their lead over Juventus ahead of the champions’ visit to Sampdoria on Sunday, and showed Italy fans what they had missed during the national team’s World Cup play-off disaster against Sweden.
“I don’t like to cause trouble. He (Ventura) considered those (who played against Sweden) to be the right men and I accept the coach’s decisions,” said Insigne.
“I am sad because Italy are not going to the World Cup, not because I didn’t play.”
The 26-year-old’s goal was given thanks to referee Daniele Doveri consulting the video assistant referee, despite having appeared to have already blown his whistle for a wrongly raised offside flag, which should have ended any chance of VAR consultation.
However Doveri took the VAR’s advice that Milan defender Alessio Romagnoli had played Insigne onside and gave the goal.
Insigne also draw a fine save from Gianluigi Donnarumma on the stroke of half-time and laid on Dries Mertens for a simple chance that the Belgian fired right at the Milan stopper.
Substitute Piotr Zielinski sealed the three points with 17 minutes left, firing home Mertens’ superb clipped pass to give Napoli a cushion that meant Romagnoli’s stunning stoppage-time volley was nothing more than a consolation.
Milan coach Vincenzo Montella remains under pressure despite a strong second-half performance as his side stay seventh on just 19 points, 11 points away from the Champions League placings, after their sixth defeat in 13 games.
“Our last two defeats were against Juventus and Napoli, but despite the results, we were in the games,” said Montella, who up to now has been backed by the club.
“We have simpler fixtures coming up and hopefully this performance will see us in good sted.”
Napoli are also five points clear of Inter Milan and Roma, who beat Lazio in a pulsating Rome derby thanks to goals from Diego Perotti and Radja Nainggolan.
Ciro Immobile pulled one back from the spot with 18 minutes left after Kostas Manolas’ handball was spotted by the VAR, but Roma held out for a huge win over their local rivals.
For Perotti, his 49th-minute penalty and an assist for Nainggolan’s drilled strike was the continuation of a “rebirth” that saw him called up for Argentina for the first time in six years earlier in the month.
“It was the peak of my football rebirth. This sport has made me suffer and made me smile,” said Perotti, who made his international debut in 2009 as a promising youngster at Sevilla, suffered with injuries and form until moving to Italy in 2014.
“With work and the support of my friends and family I’ve overcome some bad times.” — AFP