SSC Napoli extended their lead at the top of Serie A to 18 points thanks to a 2-0 victory over a struggling Empoli side in the battle of the Azzurri, despite being down to ten men after a Marco Rui red card.
Despite having just one Serie A (SA) loss to their name in 2023, Empoli were in for an uphill struggle against title favourites Napoli at the Stadio Carlo Castellani.
Napoli were on an impressive seven-game win streak in SA and had one foot in the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finals after beating Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 during the week.
Napoli’s talisman Victor Osimhen then got in on the action to score in his ninth successive start and make it 19 goals in 20 league games after he pounced on a spilled Guglielmo Vicario save to make it 2-0 inside 30 minutes.
In this fixture last season, Empoli had staged a brilliant second-half comeback from two goals down to win 3-2, however this season, they were facing a very different Napoli side who had only conceded 15 SA goals all season.
Mário Rui had a moment of madness to give Empoli a puncher’s chance at getting back into the game with only 20 minutes remaining when he was caught by VAR stupidly kicking out at Francesco Caputo, leaving Giovanni Ayroldi no choice but to brandish a straight red card for serious foul play.