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Boos ring out in Naples as defending champion loses to lowly Empoli in Serie A

Empoli Viktor Kovalenko, right, Francesco Caputo - The Canadian Press

MILAN (AP) — Napoli coach Rudi Garcia is reportedly on the verge of being fired, only five months after taking over from title-winning coach Luciano Spalletti, after the team's third Serie A defeat of the season.

Viktor Kovalenko scored with a stunning strike in stoppage-time to snatch a 1-0 win for Empoli, which had lost eight of its previous 11 matches, and the boos rang out in Naples on Sunday.

All three of Napoli's losses have come in front of its own fans and it has only won one match at home since the end of August. It lost just two matches at home on its way to the title last season under Spalletti.

There were also jeers when Garcia’s name was read out before the match and it could have been his last time in charge. Italian media reports said the French coach will be gone by the time training resumes on Wednesday for players not on international duty.

Napoli remained fourth and slipped 10 points behind Inter Milan after the Nerazzurri beat Frosinone 2-0 to reclaim the league lead from Juventus. Empoli moved a point clear of the relegation zone.

Napoli's matches immediately after the international break are against Atalanta, Real Madrid, Inter and Juventus.

Napoli could have moved third, following AC Milan’s 2-2 draw at Lecce on Saturday, but it was still without forward Victor Osimhen and Garcia opted to start with another key player on the bench, resting Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.

Napoli also lost goalkeeper Alex Meret to a calf injury in the warmup so Pierluigi Gollini replaced him between the posts.

There were more boos after a drab first half. Garcia’s experiment clearly hadn't worked and Kvaratskhelia was brought on early in the second period.

Napoli looked more dangerous but Empoli goalkeeper Etrit Berisha pulled off a great save with an outstretched leg to deny Kvaratskhelia in the final minute.

Worse was to come for Napoli moments later as Tyronne Ebuehi pulled the ball back from the byline for Kovalenko and the Ukraine midfielder curled in a magnificent strike off the inside of the far post for his first goal for Empoli.


Federico Dimarco scored from near the halfway line, two minutes before the interval, to set Inter on its way back to the top of Serie A.

Italian TV said his diagonal lob covered a distance of 56 meters.

Dimarco was still level with the center circle, on the left side of the field, when he spotted Frosinone goalkeeper — and lifelong Inter fan — Stefano Turati off his line and lobbed him with an outrageous strike.

Inter goalkeeper Yann Sommer put his hands on his head in disbelief, while coach Simone Inzaghi turned round and beamed broadly at his bench.

Hakan Çalhanoğlu doubled Inter's lead from the spot, shortly after the start of the second half, after Marcus Thuram had been tripped by Ilario Monterisi.

Inter moved two points above Juventus, which beat Cagliari 2-1 on Saturday. The two teams meet in Turin after the international break.


Roma drew 0-0 at Lazio in a drab derby match to remain a point above its city rival and inch to within three points of the top four.

Both teams had got back on track after disappointing starts but there were more fouls on Sunday than shots on goal.

Bryan Cristante had an early goal ruled out for offside for Roma while Luis Alberto hit the woodwork for the hosts.


Atalanta snatched a 1-1 draw at Udinese to move to within one point of Napoli, along with Fiorentina which beat Bologna 2-1.

After beating Milan last weekend for its first win of the season, Udinese appeared to be heading for a second straight victory following Walace's deflected strike on the stroke of halftime — despite having earlier seen a penalty come off the post.

But Ederson headed in the equalizer in stoppage time.

It was Udinese's fifth draw in its past six league matches and left it two points above the drop.

Fiorentina leapfrogged two points above Bologna, which fell to its first loss since the opening weekend.


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