After a disappointing semi-final exit from the Coppa Italia in midweek, Napoli restored their pride on Saturday evening by defeating Juventus 1-0 in Serie A at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
A first-half penalty from Lorenzo Insigne was enough to edge the hosts past the Old Lady, as Giorgio Chiellini was the man who made the crucial error on his 400th top-flight appearance.
With the Bianconeri and Partenopei boasting the best defensive records in Serie A this term, conceding just 18 and 21 goals respectively ahead of the match, it was no surprise that goalscoring opportunities were hard to come by during the opening 30 minutes.
However, after Chiellini sent a flailing arm into the face of Amir Rrahmani as he challenged Wojciech Szczesny for a high ball, VAR was consulted and a penalty awarded. The Napoli defender’s screams no doubt helping to convince the referee of the severity of the act.
Although the postponement of their October encounter meant this was the first time the teams had faced each other in Serie A this season, Juventus had recently triumphed 2-0 in the Supercoppa Italia, when Insigne wasted the chance to equalise from the spot.
This time, though, the 29-year-old made no mistake, with a beautifully struck right-footed effort arrowing powerfully into the roof of the net and ending a run of three consecutive clean sheets for the Old Lady.
With Juventus showing a clear sense of urgency in the attacking third after the break, Cristiano Ronaldo was presented with a hat-trick of chances, but only found the target, and hands of goalkeeper Alex Meret, with one.
On 62 minutes the ball was resting in the back of the Napoli net, after Alvaro Morata swept a loose ball home, but the goal was ruled out for offside against Chiellini, who had contested the ball earlier in the move.
Despite their greater dominance during the second period, though, Juventus rarely looked destined to find a breakthrough and the Partenopei’s defence ultimately held firm with relative ease.
The defeat leaves Andrea Pirlo and his side trailing leaders AC Milan by seven points, but relieves some pressure on underfire former Rossoneri teammate Gennaro Gattuso, who will hope victory can reignite a challenge for Champions League qualification.