Monza 2-0 Napoli: Serie A champions stutter to defeat against worthy hosts
Serie A champions Napoli slipped to a shock defeat on Sunday as Monza claimed a deserved 2-0 win against the Partenopei at Stadio Brianteo.
Goals from Dany Mota and Napoli loanee Andrea Petagna handed Luciano Spalletti's men just their fourth top-flight loss of the season, dampening their ongoing title celebrations.
Spalletti opted for a handful of changes against mid-table opposition, and will have expected more from his men despite the low-stakes nature of this clash.
But for Raffaele Palladino, his Biancorossi will nevertheless delight in taking one of the biggest scalps of their successful first campaign in the top flight.
With Napoli already champions and Monza secure in their Serie A place for next season, a lacklustre dead rubber appeared to be on the cards in the first quarter-hour.
But a shrewd counter-attack from the hosts sparked matters into life shortly afterwards, with Mota taking full advantage of a disjointed defence to tuck home the opener.
The visitors chased a response, with Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa forcing a cracking save from Michele Di Gregorio just before the break, but Napoli were left trailing at the interval.
Matters worsened following the restart, when Petagna darted into the box to seize on a rebound and curl a shot beyond Pierluigi Gollini, finding the bottom-left corner.
Napoli continued to test Monza, but efforts from Mathias Olivera and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia were ably saved, while Victor Osimhen saw a penalty shout waved away.
Napoli's inability to find a way back in saw them suffer a rare reverse, in what fans will hope was merely a hangover from their Scudetto success.
What does it mean? Napoli suffer safe slip-up
With the title secure and the party already on, it is difficult to conjure the sense that defeat really means anything to a changed visiting side.
Spalletti will not see it like that, however. He will be very disappointed with the way his team failed to find a way past their stubborn hosts.
Napoli's failure to break through Monza's defence was the result of a lack of clarity from the Partenopei attack.
With 20 shots overall, they managed twice as many as their hosts, and yet they still could not find a way through, only matching Monza's total of 1.22 xG created.
Dynamite Di Gregorio
Monza's shutout might have something to do with the performance of their goalkeeper, however, who enjoyed an excellent outing.
Di Gregorio made seven saves throughout, more than three times as many as Gollini (two), to help his side claim a massive result.
Key Opta facts:
- Monza have become the first newly-promoted team to reach 49 points from 35 games in a Serie A season since 2013-14, when Verona had 52 points at the same stage of the campaign.
- Monza, alongside Lazio and Milan, are one of only three sides to have won against Serie A's current top three – Napoli, Juventus and Inter – this season. They are also the only team to win three games against that trio without conceding a goal.
- Only against Atalanta (five) has Petagna scored more goals in Serie A than he has against Napoli (four).
- Napoli have only lost four games in Serie A this season, with each of those reverses coming in 2023, and all of them coming to nil.
- Monza are the first newly-promoted team to beat that season's Serie A champions since February 2020, when Benevento triumphed against Juventus.
Monza make the trip to face Sassuolo in Serie A on Friday, while Napoli host Inter next Sunday.