Five goals again. First place again. Winter Champions again. Napoli were handed an amazing opportunity thanks to Inter losing earlier in the day, and they seized it in fine fashion, blasting Frosinone off the park with a 5-1 final score that frankly wasn't nearly as "close" as even that dominating final score. A Gonzalo Higuain brace lead the way, but Marek Hamsik, Manolo Gabbiadini, and even Raul Albiol all got involved in the fun as Napoli reclaimed the Winter Championship for the first time in over a quarter century.
The tone was set early, with Napoli dominating possession and taking the game to their hosts right off the bat. The aggressive start made sense -- Napoli knew coming into the match that Inter Milan had lost, giving them the opportunity to take first place back. It took some time for that aggression to pay off, but pay off it did -- to the tune of Raul freakin' Albiol of all people scoring from a Jorginho corner in the 20th minute.
Despite their early dominance of possession, that was only Napoli's fourth shot of the mtach, but you could definitely say that it broke open the floodgates. Jorginho and Marek Hamsik took Frosinone's midfield to the cleaners, holding near a quarter of the game's total ball possession just between the two of them, with Allan's total bringing it to 29% just for Napoli's midfielders. For reference, those three players held the ball for just 0.8% less of the time than Frosinone's entire team did all match long. That's dominance.
Napoli started dominating on the shooting end of things too, with 12 shots in the first half to Frosinone's four, a ratio combined with their possession that held create Napoli's second goal, a penalty that came when Gonzalo Higuain was brought down in the box by left back Roberto Crivello for a penalty, which he stepped up and finally converted one, giving Napoli a 2-0 lead to take into halftime.
That lead stood pat until the hour mark, when Napoli scored two goals in two minutes to put the match away. Those delightful goals off slaloming runs from Hamsik and Higuain put the day's result beyond any doubt, and a fantastic curler from Manolo Gabbiadini ten minutes later was just icing on the cake. Sure, Frosinone scored one of their own, through Paolo Sammarco in the closing minutes, but who cared at that point?
The win puts Napoli in first place at the halfway mark of the season, crowning them as campiones d'inverno of Serie A for the first time since the 1989/90 season -- a season that just so happens to be the last time that Napoli won the league. We can only hope that this is an auspicious sign of things to come.
First, though, it's time to get ready for a visit from Sassuolo next weekend, who just upset Inter at the San Siro. Time to earn their first-place berth. On to the next.
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Strinic; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik (Chalobah 78'); Callejon (El Kaddouri 75'), Higuain (Gabbiadini 66'), Mertens
Goals: Albiol (20'), Higuain (pen. 30', 60'), Hamsik (59'), Gabbiadini (71')
Frosinone: Zappino; Ciofani, Diakite, Blanchard, Crivello; Paganini (Tonev 57'), Sammarco, Gucher, Kragl (Chisbah 62'); Ciofani, Dionisi (Soddimo 67')
Goal: Sammarco (81')