Napoli delight in first Serie A top spot in 25 years

Rome, Dec. 3,(GNA/dpa) – Napoli fans are enjoying seeing their team atop of the Serie A for the first time in 25 years and hope they can continue this way.

As in the late 1980s, the squad has an Argentine star, the current league top scorer Gonzalo Higuain, who looks to help the Partenopei clinch a third scudetto after the two lifted by living legend Diego Maradona in 1987 and 1990.

Higuain on Monday tallied his 12th goal from 14 games, scoring a brace in a 2-1 defeat of then leaders Inter Milan, who slipped to second one point adrift of the Naples side.

“We are the record holders but we don’t want to look at the standings,” Higuain said.

“It’s far too early and what really matters is keep on working hard and pursuing this right stride. We are top of Serie A, but the season is still long and we have to be focused on the next match.”

New coach Maurizio Sarri, a former banker, who in 1999 chose a full-time coaching career, is the other idol of the southern city.

After three good seasons at Empoli, including promotion to the top flight, the 56-year-old Sarri seems to have brought efficient tactics and motivation to a club that traditionally suffers from lack of consistency.

Napoli have fared well also in the Europa League, securing an early qualification to the knockout phase and being the only side with a perfect record after five group match days.

Their Sunday visit to troubled Bologna could look like a seemingly easy affair, although the hosts have displayed signs of recovery since the arrival of Roberto Donadoni in late October.

Inter welcome Genoa on Saturday and left Naples with their heads up high despite the defeat, having been denied a possible late equalizer twice by the post when they were down to 10 men.

“I want to thank Coach Roberto Mancini and the players,” club president Erick Thohir said.

“Inter showed the fans that they never stop fighting, and that’s important. Obviously we’re sorry to have lost the game but we played superbly in the second half and showed just how good we are.”

Napoli have 31 points and Inter 30, followed by Fiorentina who take 29 into a Sunday visit to Udinese. Fourth-placed Roma are at Torino as they aim to bounce back from a 2-0 home defeat against Atalanta.

The 15th round opens Friday with fifth-placed champions Juventus at slumping Lazio.

The Sunday programme includes Atalanta v Palermo, Frosinone v Chievo, Sampdoria v Sassuolo and Carpi v AC Milan. Bottom side Verona chase a first win as they visit Empoli with new coach Luigi Delneri at the helm.