Napoli's 33-year football first since Maradona sparks chaos in Italy

Extraordinary scenes have broken out across Italy after Napoli's drought-breaking feat.

Napoli fans were ecstatic after their football team won its first Serie A title since 1990 when Diego Maradona starred for the side. Pic: Getty

Wild scenes have broken out across Italy after Napoli clinched its first Serie A title since the days of the late, great Diego Maradona. A 1-1 draw at Udinese was enough for Napoli to clinch their drought-breaking Italian top flight title, despite having five matches still to play.

Winning the 'Scudetto' set off extraordinary scenes of celebration throughout Naples, inside the stadium and across Udine as football fans took to the streets to kick off the festivities in style. The late Argentine legend Maradona famously led Napoli to their only previous Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990, with the football-mad Italian city having to wait 33 years before adding their third Scudetto.

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League-scoring leader Victor Osimhen equalised for Napoli early in the second half by redirecting a rebound after Sandi Lovric had put Udinese ahead early on. It meant Napoli set up an insurmountable 16-point lead over second-place Lazio, meaning mathematically, they can't be caught regardless of what happens in the final five games.

Napoli football fans took to the streets in celebration after their side's first Scudetto in 33 years. Pic: Getty
Napoli football fans took to the streets in celebration after their side's first Scudetto in 33 years. Pic: Getty

As well as the 11,000 Napoli fans inside and some 5000 more who gathered outside the stadium in northern Italy, a capacity crowd of more than 50,000 watched the match on jumbo screens at Napoli's Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples. Celebrating fans invaded the field at the final whistle, while scenes of delirium descended on Naples as fireworks and flares lit up the night sky.

Napoli stand tall above traditional Italian powerhouses

Napoli's triumph is all the more significant because it represents the first time since Roma claimed the title in 2001 that a club south of Italy's traditional powerhouse cities of Milan and Turin have won a Scudetto. Napoli matched the record of clinching the title with five rounds to spare, shared with Torino (in 1947-48), Fiorentina (1955-56), Inter Milan (2006-07) and Juventus (2018-19).

Osimhen slotted in a 52nd minute rebound off a shot from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia that came via a corner kick for the visitors. The Nigerian striker broke his face mask during the ensuing celebrations and had to play without it for a few minutes while it was repaired by Napoli officials on the sideline.

It was Osimhen's 22nd goal in the league this season and the 46th of his Serie A career, matching former AC Milan standout and current Liberia President George Weah as the top African scorers in Italy. Napoli had a brief lapse during the first half during which Lovric found space within the area for a quick control and angled shot inside the far post in the 13th.

Napoli have dominated all season and didn't lose in the league until getting beat by Inter in January. A 5-1 victory over Juventus nine days later left no doubt that this was the Partenopei's year.

Napoli, though, weren't even considered title contenders before the season because of the departures of former captain Lorenzo Insigne, club record scorer Dries Mertens and defensive stalwart Kalidou Koulibaly. However, Osimhen has developed into the most dangerous striker in the league, sparking interest in his signing from around the world, including English Premier League giants Chelsea and Manchester United.

The title gives Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti the one honour he has coveted most after previously managing Roma and Inter and winning two Russian league championships with Zenit St Petersburg. Spalletti's innovative style first showed promise at Udinese nearly two decades ago when he led the provincial club to a fourth-place finish and a spot in the Champions League.

with AAP

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