Cremonese had taken the lead, then clawed an equaliser in the final minutes for 2-2 and held out in extra time down to 10 men, eventually eliminating Napoli from the Coppa Italia on penalties, so will face Roma in the quarter-final.
The Partenopei were fired up after their 5-1 win over Juventus put them nine points clear at the top of the Serie A table and could afford to rotate the squad, missing only suspended Hirving Lozano, with Diego Demme on paternity leave and Kvicha Kvaratskhelia with flu symptoms. Cremonese made their debut under new coach Davide Ballardini, having sacked Massimiliano Alvini at the weekend.
Napoli wore a special edition shirt with red lipstick mark to raise funds for domestic violence victims, while this was the first Coppa Italia game to be officiated entirely by women, as referee Maria Sole Ferrieri Caputi was flanked by her two assistants.
Zerbin had a shot charged down, but that sparked a counter-attack from which Cremonese took the lead. David Okereke burst down the left and rolled across the face of goal, it went past Daniel Ciofani, but Charles Pickel was ready to tap in at the back post.
Moments later, Okereke almost got one himself from a similar position, firing wide after getting away from Leo Ostigard, while Napoli had timid penalty appeals for Pickel’s tackle on Gianluca Gaetano and saw Giovanni Simeone’s strike charged down.
Juan Jesus had to make a decisive block to prevent a second goal on the pull-back for Giacomo Quagliata from 15 yards.
Napoli equalised in chaotic circumstances, because Marco Carnesecchi flew for a fantastic one-handed save on Tanguy Ndombele’s rocket, then Simeone collided with the goalkeeper when nodding the rebound onto the bar, so by the time Juan Jesus bundled over the line, Carnesecchi was already down in a heap. However, VAR and the referee waved play on.
No sooner had the protests died down, Napoli turned the game around completely, as Alessio Zerbin floated in a cross from the left for the glancing header of Cholito Simeone.
Okereke had another dangerous ball across the face of goal with nobody ready to meet it this time, while Ndombele irritated Luciano Spalletti by over-complicating the pass once he had robbed Jack Hendry.
Eljif Elmas got back for a well-timed tackle on Okereke and Simeone’s overhead kick didn’t quite come off, but Hendry needed a crucial block to turn the Elmas finish onto the side-netting after great work from Cholito.
Just as it seemed as if Napoli were coasting towards the final whistle, Cremonese equalised with Luca Zanimacchia’s cross from the right finding a Felix Afena-Gyan looping free header, completely lost by marker Bereszynski.
The runaway Serie A leaders were forced to extra time by the team at rock bottom of the league. It remained a frustrating experience until Leonardo Sernicola received his second yellow card for a stamp on Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s ankle and Victor Osimhen came off the bench.
The Nigerian almost scored with his first touch, a header parried by Carnesecchi only for Simeone to incredibly fire the rebound onto the frame of the open goal from point-blank range.
Carnesecchi also got down to beat away a Matteo Politano low drive, again Simeone wasting the rebound, although this time the Argentine might’ve been offside.
Moments later, Anguissa horribly wasted by blasting over the bar from close range and a thunderstorm erupted, making playing conditions even more difficult as Cremonese held out under siege and Osimhen’s glancing header skimmed the far post.
They could only be divided by a penalty shoot-out and Stanislav Lobotka made the only mistake, firing wide of the target, as Felix Afena-Gyan kept his cool to convert the winner.
Napoli 2-2 Cremonese (aet)
Pickel 18 (C), Juan Jesus 33 (N), Simeone 36 (N), Afena-Gyan 87 (C)
Sent off: Sernicola 100 (C)
Penalty shoot-out: Politano (N, goal), Vasquez (C, goal), Simeone (N, goal), Buonaiuto (C, goal), Zielinski (N, goal), Tsadjout (C, goal), Lobotka (N, missed), Valeri (C, goal), Osimhen (N, goal), Afena-Gyan (C, goal)
2 Comments on “Coppa Italia | Napoli 2-2 Cremonese: Partenopei crash out on penalties”
Not one mention on how ridiculously atrocious that ref was. Worst ref I’ve seen in a while amd thays saying something about serie a and their track record of referring. She has no business reffing a serie a game again. She’s def not ready.