One of the fundamental laws of household physics takes a lifetime trying to figure out how to get the toothpaste back into the original tube. And it is the same question that was asked this Sunday by all fans who had been waiting for 33 years and a day for a historic eruption that, six minutes after it occurred, was cut short by the great goal of the Senegalese from Salernitana —former Villarreal striker— Boulaye Dia.
Alex Meret, Mathías Olivera (Juan Jesus, min. 82), Di Lorenzo, Kim Min-Jae, Rrahmani, Lobotka (Giovanni Simeone, min. 89), Zielinski (Giacomo Raspadori, min. 60), Franck Zambo (Tanguy NDombele Alvaro , min. 89), Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Victor Osimhen and Hirving Lozano (Elmas, min. 60)
Ochoa, Flavius Daniliuc (Matteo Lovato, min. 86), Norbert Gyömbér, Lorenzo Pirola, Lassana Couibaly, Tonny Vilhena (Krzysztof Piatek, min. 67), Domagoj Bradaric (Emil Bohinen, min. 67), Pasquale Mazzocchi (Salomon Sambia, min. 68), Boulaye Dia, Candreva (Erik Botheim, min. 45) and Grigoris Kastanos
goals 1-0 min. 61: Mathias Olivera. 1-1 min. 83: Boulaye Dia.
Referee Matteo Marcenaro
Yellow cards Zielinski (min. 54), Mathías Olivera (min. 70), Flavius Daniliuc (min. 73) and Lorenzo Pirola (min. 74)
“It was the hand of Dia!” Shouted the fans of Salerno, the only municipality worthy of facing Napoli under the banner of “derby” and snatching a party that had been preparing for months at the last breath. A celebration, with hundreds of thousands of people already on the streets, which will have to return to the toothpaste tube and wait for next Thursday, when the Partenopean club will play against Udinese.
The day had started wonderfully for Napoli. The setting was perfect. Crazy afternoon and home game against a small promoted club two seasons ago: the closest thing to a derby. But Napoli depended on Inter’s victory at their stadium and against Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio, third-placed and old coach of the Azzurri. So that the whole city, from the alleys of Forcella and Quartieri Spagnoli to the elegant pedestrian streets of Chiaia, sat in front of the television at 12:30 to cheer on the Milanese and pray to the saint of arithmetic, one more to the 56 that he had the city before the Counter-Reformation. No Neapolitan ever protested a disallowed goal against Inter as much as the one scored by Mkhitaryan in the 27th minute. Not a bit from Lautaro Martínez in the 77th minute, even if he was another Argentine cousin. Naples was neroazzurra, a Lombard province. Because then it was time to face the game at the Diego Armando Maradona, which was to be played on Saturday, and which the police asked to delay until Sunday, anticipating the madness that could break out if the team won the night before. Inter won 3-1. And the typhosi they entered the stadium already knowing that they depended on themselves. Better, impossible.
Naples, with the exception of Cologne, is the only European city with more than a million inhabitants that does not divide its love into more than one team. It’s Napoli or nothing. And the Salernitana is the closest thing to that fratricidal war that a derby embodies. Especially in Salerno, of course. Napoli dominated from the start, but Olivera’s headed goal didn’t come until minute 66. A header and madness throughout the city, which stained the pre-seismic environment with blue smoke, horns and chants. There was no longer any doubt about what was going to happen. The chronicles were written —also this one—, and the adjectives did not go down from the grandiose rung of legendary or historical. But football, and especially Napoli, does not accept preconceived ideas or vague chroniclers. And in the 86th minute, Dia silenced an entire city. And the team, capable of knocking down all the giants in Serie A this year, began to shake at that moment.
Naples had prepared everything for the party of the century. The mayor and the prefect asked to move the game to Sunday so that it coincided with Inter-Lazio. For security cuestions. But also festive. There were giant screens, stages, bars in the street, thousands of fireworks and a passion that overflowed the bars and nightclubs that greased the cash register. The disappointment was huge. But there was also a pragmatic sense of drama running through the streets. “I do not care to. I won’t go home until Thursday”, warned Salvatore Marzi, one of the thousands of fans who will remain in purgatory until this week Napoli resolve their existential doubts against Udinese. A three-way play in which, because of this result, Juventus will now also enter.
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