Napoli wins at Verona, keeps building under Gattuso

Reserve forwads Arkadiusz Milik and Hirving Lozano score in a 2-0 win at Hellas Verona in Serie A.

Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik (right) celebrates with team-mates after scoring his side’s opening goal.   -  AP

Three matches into the restart, Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso can celebrate three different achievements.

In the Partenopei’s latest performance on Tuesday, reserve forwards Arkadiusz Milik and Hirving Lozano scored in a 2-0 win at Hellas Verona in Serie A. That followed Napoli’s Italian Cup victory in a penalty shootout victory over Juventus for its first title in six years.

Before that, Dries Mertens broke Napoli’s all-time scoring record in the southern club’s first match back - a draw with Inter Milan that earned a trip to the cup final.

Milik, the subject of transfer speculation, scored with a header off a corner at the end of the first half. Then Lozano, who was kicked out of training last week by Gattuso due to a lack of effort, sealed the win with a header in the 90th - shortly after coming on. “I don’t like to hold grudges,” Gattuso said of Lozano. “But I strongly believe that when you’re part of a football club everyone needs to be on the same wavelength. You always have to train at 100 percent.”

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Gattuso has led a quick turnaround since replacing the fired Carlo Ancelotti in December, when Napoli was in crisis with players boycotting a training camp ordered by club president Aurelio De Laurentiis.

‘In form’

“The squad has improved. The team is in form,” Gattuso said. “It’s a team that knows how to keep the opposition from scoring, that knows how to pass very well.”

Before kickoff, Napoli sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli confirmed that Milik will be offered to other clubs if he doesn’t agree to a contract extension. “It’s up to him,” Gattuso added of Milik, who now has 10 goals this season despite alternating with Mertens at centre forward. “He’s one of the strongest forwards in the world right now.”

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Napoli moved within three points of fifth-place Roma, which plays Sampdoria on Wednesday.

‘Great match’

Promoted Verona, which had a second-half equaliser disallowed by the VAR, is eighth. “I haven’t seen many teams play well against Verona,” Gattuso said. “We played a great match both with and without the ball.”

Two seasons removed from Serie B, Parma is fighting for a spot in Europe.

Andreas Cornelius scored a hat trick and Dejan Kulusevski added another as Parma won 4-1 at Genoa to move into seventh place. Cornelius also scored a hat trick against Genoa in October.

Also, Andrea Bellotti scored as Torino beat Udinese 1-0; and Cagliari won 1-0 at relegation-threatened Spal with a late header from Giovanni Simeone.

Cooling breaks were held in the early games. All the matches are being played in empty stadiums.

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