Second-half goals from Fabian Ruiz and Dries Mertens were not enough to gift Napoli the win against Sassuolo, with the home team scoring twice in the final stages of the game.
Napoli wasted a golden opportunity tonight to extend their lead at the top of the table. Despite a two-goal lead, and dominating much of the game, Sassuolo was able to salvage a point in the final minutes of the game, and nearly scrape a victory.
Luciano Spalletti opted for a 4-3-3 formation that matched the tactical setup of Sassuolo managed by Alessio Dionisi. Still, the first half proved a relatively even affair, with few chances on either end.
Napoli took the lead early in the second half. Fabian Ruiz’s excellent long-range effort proved unstoppable for goalkeeper Andrea Consigli.
Mere minutes later, Dries Mertens wrapped up an excellent team contribution to put Gli Azzuri two goals ahead. Victory seemed all but certain.
Sassuolo’s change in personnel and style, however, lead to them edging closer to their rivals. Gianluca Scamacca scored a great volley from inside the box.
Napoli’s decision to retreat early proved costly. In the 89th minute, Gian Marco Ferrari netted the equalizer from Domenico Berardi’s pass.
It could have all ended even worse for Napoli when in extra-time Sassuolo scored their third before VAR ruled it out.
The excitement proved too much for Luciano Spalletti whose disapproval of the referee’s decision earned him a red card.
The result leaves Napoli in the first place, albeit only by a one point margin. Luciano Spalletti’s players will surely look upon the game against Sassuolo as a wasted opportunity to cement their reputation as principal Scudetto challengers.