Napoli have won their first Italian Serie A title in 33 years, clinching the Scudetto on Thursday with a 1-1 draw at Udinese.
Needing only a draw to take an unassailable 16-point lead with five games still remaining, Serie A’s top scorer Victor Osimhen equalised for Napoli in the 52nd minute to spark wild celebrations.
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The title is Napoli’s third in Italy’s top division and first since legendary Argentine Diego Maradona led them to championships in 1987 and 1990. Napoli’s home stadium was renamed in Maradona’s honour following his death in November 2020.
Napoli could have sealed the title at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium on Sunday but conceded a late equaliser to Salernitana to extend the wait for four more days. But they went into Thursday’s game knowing a point would be enough after nearest challengers Lazio beat Sassuolo a day earlier.
As a result, 11,000 Napoli fans followed the team to the Dacia Arena at Udine, in northern Italy, in anticipation of a celebration more than three decades in the making. More than 50,000 supporters were also expected at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, after it was opened for fans to watch the game.
The Diego Armando Maradona Stadium went wild after Victor Osimhen’s equaliser 🙌
(via @PipeOlcina17) pic.twitter.com/LrIsBQ9ktY
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 4, 2023
For weeks, Napoli’s march to the title had seemed inevitable as they built a massive lead over their rivals.
Luciano Spalletti’s side went unbeaten through their first 15 games of the campaign, including an 11-match winning streak. After that first loss, away at Inter, Napoli immediately went on an eight-game winning run to go 18 points clear at the top and put a stranglehold on the Scudetto.
The team has been led by Nigerian striker Osimhen, who fittingly secured the title Thursday with his 22nd goal of the campaign.
Another standout performer has been winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who arrived as an unheralded and largely unknown signing from Georgia last summer and has become an overnight sensation, scoring 12 league goals and adding another 10 assists.
Normally superstitious about mentioning the word “scudetto,” Neapolitans have been festooning the city with banners, flags and life-sized replicas of Napoli players as it gears up for a party that has been on hold for several weeks.
The wait has been extended after a tough month in April where Napoli managed only two wins in seven games in all competitions and crashed out of the Champions League.
“We are currently lacking the sharpness and quality that we had earlier in the season because just like a marathon, the final kilometre is the toughest,” Spalletti said on Sunday.
No team south of Milan or Turin had won the Italian league since Roma claimed the title in 2001.
Information from Reuters and the Associated Press was used in this report.