Khvicha Kvaratskhelia nets double as Napoli ease past Hellas Verona

By Sports Desk October 21, 2023

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia scored twice as Napoli relaunched their Serie A title defence with a 3-1 victory at struggling Hellas Verona.

Recent underwhelming form saw Rudi Garcia’s men suffer a home defeat by Fiorentina last time out but they were always likely to get more from a trip to a Verona side who were winless in six matches heading into Saturday afternoon’s clash.

Matteo Politano made the first-half breakthrough before Kvaratskhelia scored either side of the break to render Darko Lazovic’s response largely redundant as Napoli consolidated themselves in fifth, not far behind the leading pack.

Napoli were first to threaten as Giacomo Raspadori forced Lorenzo Montipo to punch clear from a venomous free-kick in the seventh minute.

Raspadori soon tried again, this time connecting with a Mario Rui touch to test Montipo from distance. The Verona goalkeeper parried for a corner but he was not so successful in the 27th minute when Napoli opened the scoring.

Mario Rui, Piotr Zielinski and Raspadori tied Verona up in knots with a series of short passes before the latter crossed to an unmarked Politano for a volleyed left-footed finish at the far post.

There was almost a quickfire second when Jens Cajuste, put through by the slick Raspadori, spanked it wide from a one-on-one with Montipo.

Kvaratskhelia gave Napoli a two-goal lead before half-time, however. A rapid counter-attack down the right side gave Politano plenty of time to pick out the Georgian on the other flank for a low drive inside the near post.

Verona tried to slash the deficit as soon as play resumed, with Federico Bonazzoli latching onto Milan Djuric’s pass and fizzing it towards Alex Meret in the Napoli goal.

Instead Kvaratskhelia fired the Partenopei well clear when, in the 55th minute, he collected another Politano assist and coolly beat Montipo.

Lazovic promptly bit back for wounded Verona, though, when the visitors failed to deal with Davide Faraoni’s cross on the hour mark and the Serbian scorched one in.

With a potential comeback on the cards the game opened up and Djuric and Politano enjoyed opportunities at either end before Meret pulled off a desperate stop to deny Bonazzoli before needing to keep Lazovic at bay not long after.

Substitute Alessio Zerbin looked to rubber-stamp the Napoli win as time ticked away but Montipo prevented further damage by blocking the daisy cutter with his legs, limiting the winning margin to two goals.

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