Napoli beats Udinese 3-2 to go 11 points clear in Serie A

MILAN (AP) — Napoli could end the year with a double-digit points lead at the top of Serie A.

Goals from Victor Osimhen, Piotr Zieliński and Eljif Elmas saw Napoli beat Udinese 3-2 on Saturday for its 11th straight league victory and open up a significant gap over its rivals.

It was a nervy finale for the home side, however, following two late goals from substitutes Ilija Nestorovski and Lazar Samardžić.

The five teams immediately below Napoli don’t play until Sunday, with four of them facing each other.

Whatever happens, Napoli is guaranteed to spend the rest of the year at least eight points clear as Serie A pauses for the World Cup and the traditional winter break.

By the time Italian soccer resumes it will have been three months since Udinese’s last victory, as the team has gone into free fall after an impressive start to the season.

It took Napoli just 15 minutes to break the deadlock as Osimhen headed home Elmas’ cross for his seventh goal in his past six league matches.

Osimhen also had a hand in Napoli’s second goal in the 31st as he went on the counterattack and sent a cheeky backheel pass to Hirving Lozano in midfield. Lozano picked out Zieliński, who took one touch to control in the penalty area before curling into the far side of the net.

Napoli’s third goal also came from a counterattack. André-Frank Anguissa picked out Elmas, who was in plenty of space on the left and he cut inside to fire in at the near post.

Napoli appeared to be heading for a comfortable victory but Nestorovski pulled one back in the 79th and Samardžić reduced the gap still further three minutes later when he robbed the ball off Kim Min-jae and surged forward before placing it into the bottom left corner from 25 yards.

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Daniella Matar, The Associated Press