The scenes at the San Paolo were special as Napoli beat Frosinone 4-0 to secure second place in Serie A. This match was more than that, though -- we got to witness history as Gonzalo Higuain tied and then broke the single-season scoring record in Serie A.
Let's dispense with the usual recappy chicanery. This match was just too big for that. Let's instead talk about what actually happened, both on and off the pitch, because ... wow. Just wow.
From even well before the match, you could tell that the San Paolo was primed for something huge. It was a big and important match, with second place on the line, but even watching from the other side of a TV screen, you could feel that the fans in the crowd were ready to will Napoli to a win if they had to.
The slow and unsteady start to the match made the crowd restless, though, and that only got worse when word filtered into the stadium that Roma had taken a 1-0 lead over Milan to, temporarily, take second from Napoli. Hope surged when Frosinone went down to ten men thanks to the bizarre sending off of Mirko Gori -- who reacted badly after a foul and protested heavily, but did nothing obvious to earn the straight red he was given -- but quickly settled back into a strained tension and nervousness as Napoli struggled to make the most of the opportunity.
Then Marek Hamsik scored, and the walls almost blew out of the stadium. The relief was almost palpable as Napoli took that vitally-needed lead, and the outpouring of love from the fans to their captain seemed to help rev the team up just when they needed it the most.
Then came the second half, and with it history.
When Gonzalo Higuain scored his first goal of the match, you could almost feel a snap in the tension. Not only did that goal assure Napoli of the win and second place -- Frosinone were one of the worst scoring sides on the road, after all -- but it put him just one goal behind Gunnar Nordahl's single-season scoring record that had stood since 1950. Everyone, from the fans to the coaches to the players on the bench and on the field, willed the ball to Higuain's feet over and over again, hoping, praying that he would find a second goal to equal that record.
Ten minutes later, he did, and the fans danced and screamed and shouted and celebrated right along with Higuain. And then, almost before the celebrations could die down, Higuain scored on an absolutely phenomenal, goal-of-the-season candidate kind of strike. It was a not-so-minor miracle that the San Paolo didn't collapse with how that crowd exploded in sheer joy as Higuain broke the record, 67 long years after it had been set, and decades after it was assumed that no one else would ever touch it.
This time, the celebrations lasted the rest of the match, and only got even rowdier and more excited when the referee blew his whistle for the last time. The Champions League anthem blared out over the stadium PA, the crowd sang right along with it, and Napoli fans all around the world screamed with joy.
Second place. The Champions League. An undefeated record at home in the league. Gonzalo Higuain as your new single-season Serie A scoring record holder. There were certainly some pretty big bumps along the way, but to have this season after the misery that was last year and such an uncertain summer, is just ... there are no words that properly convey the feeling. It's just too wonderful to adequately describe.
Thank you, Napoli. That was an incredible season.
Forza Napoli. On to the Champions League.
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Chiriches, Koulibaly (Regini 76'), Ghoulam; Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik (Lopez 83'); Callejon (Mertens 65'), Higuain, Insigne
Goals: Hamsik (44'), Higuain (52', 62', 71')
Frosinone: Zappino; M Ciofani, Russo, Blanchard, Crivello; Frara (Soddimo 76'), Gori (red 13'), Sammarco, Kragl (Carlini 68'); D Ciofani, Dionisi (Gucher 63')