Although they had little to play for, Sassuolo can feel aggrieved about losing 2-0 to Napoli in Serie A Saturday night.
The Neroverdi have a reputation for being one of the most entertaining teams in Italian football, and even without star winger Jeremie Boga, they looked capable of breaching the Partenopei defence.
Sassuolo did find the back of the net on four occasions but all of their goals were disallowed.
Linesman Marco Bresmes had raised his flag for the first time Filip Djuricic had put the ball in the back of the net but referee Gianluca Aureliano had to use VAR when he eventually disallowed a second goal from the Serbian midfielder as well as strikes from Francesco Caputo and Domenico Berardi.
With those three goals ruled out, this match now holds the record for the most goals disallowed by VAR in Serie A since the technology was introduced in the 2017/18 season. It was also Djuricic’s 50th appearance for the Neroverdi in Serie A but turned out to be one to forget for many reasons.
Sassuolo are a team capable of moving the ball quickly but the players must be wondering if things could have been different if they had timed their runs better or watched their positioning around Napoli’s back line.
This defeat also broke a run of 11 Serie A games in which they have found the back of the net as well as a run of five away matches without defeat.
Gattuso De Zerbi Drama
One way or another, matches involving Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso and his Sassuolo counterpart Roberto De Zerbi provide their share of memories.
These two battled each other for the first time in the 2015/16 Lega Pro playoffs, when Gattuso’s Pisa won 5-3 on aggregate against De Zerbi’s Foggia and earned promotion to Serie B.
The then Pisa coach was hit by bottles from the crowd in the second leg, the game was suspended for 13 minutes, and he almost got into a physical confrontation with his Foggia counterpart.
In 2017/18, Gattuso made his first appearance on the AC Milan bench against De Zerbi’s Benevento, and the Streghe got their first Serie A point in a 2-2 draw, which is best remember for Goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli scoring the equaliser at the death.
Later that season, Benevento travelled to Milan and registered a shock 1-0 victory against the Rossoneri.
Gattuso has won five times against De Zerbi in league and playoff games while there have been two draws and the Lombard has only beat his Calabrian counterpart just once.
Hysaj Makes History
Albanian defender Elseid Hysaj scored the opening goal for Napoli and it proved to be a historically significant goal.
Out of all the players currently active in Serie A, the 26-year-old had gone the most games without scoring with 188, and he was the Partenopei’s 17th different goalscorer in the league. The previous record for the Neapolitan club was 15, which was achieved in both 2017/18 and 2018/19.
Hysaj is also just the second Albanian to have scored for Napoli. Right-winger Naim Krieziu found the back of the net 24 times in Serie A between 1947 and 1952.