December 22, 2019 / 10:12 PM / 2 months ago

Napoli end barren run with stoppage-time winner at Sassuolo

MILAN (Reuters) - Napoli ended an eight-match winless run in Serie A and gave new coach Gennaro Gattuso his first victory on Sunday when they came from behind to win 2-1 at Sassuolo with a stoppage-time own goal from Pedro Obiang.

Sassuolo went ahead through 19-year-old Hamed Junior Traore in the 29th minute and should have added to their tally as eighth-placed Napoli gave a ragged first-half display and were jeered off by their fans.

But the visitors improved dramatically after halftime.

Allan equalised in the 57th minute and, after a spell of sustained pressure, Obiang turned the ball into his own goal following a corner in the fifth minute of added time to give Napoli their first league win since Oct. 19.

“We made a lot of mistakes in the first half, in the second half we started to do what I want to do with more organised pressure,” said Gattuso, who replaced Carlo Ancelotti earlier this month and saw his team lose 2-1 at home to Parma in his first match.

“I’m not a magician, I don’t think we’ve solved all our problems but the team are alive, they are trying to work in a different way.”

Napoli were pitiful in the first-half as they repeatedly lost possession and gifted a flurry of chances to the hosts.

Manuel Locatelli saw a header cleared off the Napoli line by Mario Rui, Alfred Duncan’s powerful effort was saved by Alex Merets and a Giorgos Kyriakopoulos shot fizzed past the post before Traore broke the deadlock with a volley from Locatelli’s cross.

Jeremie Boga and Mert Muldur missed further chances after the break for Sassuolo before Napoli equalised with one of their few coherent moves until that point.

A clever dummy by Arkadiusz Milik allowed Piotr Zielinski’s pass to find Allan on the edge of the area and the Brazilian turned his marker and fired into the top corner.

Jose Callejon thought he had won the game for Napoli in the 84th minute only to see the goal chalked off because his knee was offside but Napoli were not to be denied.

A corner was headed on at the near post and Obiang, under pressure from Eljif Elmas, turned the ball in at the far post.

“It’s disappointing but we are struggling to take that extra step, we should have finished the first half more than one goal ahead,” said Sassuolo coach Roberto De Zerbi. “We also needed to be smarter in the last few minutes.”

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ian Chadband and Christian Radnedge

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