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Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Agn Foto Victor Osimhen of Napoli.
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Napoli survive scare to stride clear in Italy, Bayern extend Bundesliga lead
Meanwhile, Bayer Leverkusen’s resurgence under Xabi Alonso continued and Lens kept the pressure on PSG in France.

NAPOLI’S BID FOR a first Serie A title since the days of Diego Maradona was further boosted on Saturday after surviving a late scare against Udinese to claim a 3-2 win, stretching their lead to 11 points.

Luciano Spalletti’s side were cruising to the win after Victor Osimhen, Piotr Zielinski and Eljif Elmas put them three ahead just before the hour mark.

But quickfire strikes from Ilija Nestorovski and Lazar Samardzic left the 50,000 fans at the Stadio Maradona biting their fingernails in the final eight minutes before bellowing their joy at the final whistle.

“Every win comes from hard work and the last 15 minutes show that what this team has achieved so far can’t be taken for granted,” Spalletti told DAZN.

“We thought the match was over and took our foot off the pedal, but the game is never over until its over.”

Napoli held on for their 11th straight league win and extended their lead at the top of the table on AC Milan and Lazio, who both play on Sunday.

Spalletti’s team will be at least eight points ahead of the chasing pack once the final round of Serie A matches this year is completed.

Elsewhere in Italy, struggling Sampdoria slumped to their fourth straight defeat, 2-0 at home to Lecce who pop up to 15th place, eight points above the relegation zone.

In Germany, 

Bayern Munich’s teenage forward Jamal Musiala laid on two assists to help his side extend their lead atop the table to six points in a 2-0 win away at Schalke on Saturday.

Coming into the game against last-placed Schalke who have won only twice this season, Bayern boasted a starting XI featuring XI players selected for the Qatar World Cup – six for Germany, four for France and one for Cameroon.

The home side managed to keep Bayern at bay for much of the opening stanza, before a sublime Musiala back-heel put former Arsenal forward Serge Gnabry in space to score his side’s first after 38 minutes.

Musiala set up his side’s second after 52 minutes, with Bayern launching a length-of-the-field counter attack after a Schalke free kick.

Musiala, who represented England as a teenager before shifting allegiance to Germany, assessed his options before sliding the ball to Cameroon striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who scored his 10th goal from his last nine games for Bayern.

Musiala had the ball in the net less than 10 minutes later, but the goal was ruled out for offside.

Bayern Munich are now unbeaten in their past 22 games against Schalke, dating back to 2010 when Musiala was just seven.

A 2-1 win away at Werder Bremen gave RB Leipzig their ninth victory in their past 10 appearances on Saturday.

Leipzig took the lead after just 13 minutes through Portugal striker Andre Silva, before Bremen centre-back Christian Gross equalised in the second half.

Austrian midfielder Xaver Schlager scored with just under 20 minutes remaining to help Leipzig continue their impressive recent form under former Borussia Dortmund manager Marco Rose.

soccer-1st-bundesliga-bayer-04-leverkusen-vfb-stuttgart-15th-matchday DPA / PA Images Xabi Alonso. DPA / PA Images / PA Images

Bayer Leverkusen’s resurgence under manager Xabi Alonso continued, with a 2-0 win at home against Stuttgart.

A first-half strike from French striker Moussa Diaby and a second-half goal from German defender Jonathan Tah continued Leverkusen’s recent momentum, with the home side unbeaten in three after winning just one of their first six under Alonso.

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Wolfsburg’s stunning recent form under former Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac continued as the Wolves won at Hoffenheim for a fifth victory in nine games in all competitions.

Hoffenheim hit the lead thanks to a first-half goal from Christoph Baumgartner, before an injury time own goal from former Liverpool defender Ozan Kabak put Wolfsburg draw level.

Wolfsburg’s comeback was complete when Germany midfielder Ridle Baku scored after 56 minutes.

A second-half goal from Ghana striker Christopher Antwi-Adjei helped Bochum win 1-0 away at Augsburg.

Manager Thomas Letsch, who took over a winless Bochum in late September, has secured four wins from his eight games in charge to help distance his side from last-placed Schalke.

In Berlin, goals from Ivory Coast winger Wilfried Kanga and German striker Marco Richter helped Hertha pick up just their third win of the season, with a 2-0 triumph over Cologne.

Placed third and fourth respectively, Union Berlin and Freiburg have a chance to cut Bayern’s lead to four points – and reclaim second spot – when they clash in Sunday’s late game.

Lens continued their frantic pace to keep the pressure on Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday with a 2-1 win at home against Clermont consolidating second spot in Ligue 1.

An eighth consecutive win at home puts Franck Haise’s side two points behind the champions and eight clear of third-placed Rennes who host Toulouse later on Saturday.

PSG welcome Auxerre on Sunday on the final weekend of Ligue 1 action before the World Cup break.

– © AFP 2022

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