Higuain breaks 66-year-old scoring record, Napoli comes 2nd
MILAN — Gonzalo Higuain scored a hat trick to break a 66-year-old record and help Napoli secure second spot in Serie A with a 4-0 win over 10-man Frosinone on Saturday.
Napoli gained direct entry to the Champions League by finishing two points above Roma, which won 3-1 at AC Milan in the final round. Roma goes into the Champions League playoffs.
“Now we can celebrate our direct return to the Champions League and we will strengthen the squad calmly and effectively, in order to be competitive in Europe,” Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis said.
Higuain’s third goal, an acrobatic bicycle kick, took him to 36 league goals in 35 matches, bettering Milan forward Gunnar Nordahl, who scored 35 times in 37 matches in 1949-50.
“I congratulate Napoli, because they deserved second place,” Roma coach Luciano Spalletti said. “Congratulations also to Higuain for this really lovely record, they played great football, we did what we had to do.”
Marek Hamsik scored Napoli’s opening goal after Frosinone midfielder Mirko Gori was sent off in the 14th minute. Frosinone had already been relegated.
“I thank the whole city for how they have welcomed me and I thank the fans, because we may have finished second but our fans are the champions of Italy,” Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri said.
Earlier, Juventus, which had already won its fifth straight Serie A title, thrashed 10-man Sampdoria 5-0.
Elsewhere, Sassuolo beat Inter Milan 3-1 to ensure it finished above AC Milan, earning the last Europa League spot if the Rossoneri lose to Juventus in next week’s Italian Cup final.
Both Napoli and Roma had already qualified for the Champions League but Napoli knew a win would guarantee it finished second and secure a spot in the group stage.
Frosinone’s hopes of ending its first ever season in Serie A with a positive result diminished when Gori was booked for a foul and then shown a red card moments later after remarks to the referee.
Lorenzo Insigne hit the crossbar but it took Napoli until a minute before halftime to make the most of the man advantage. Two defenders were marking Higuain on Faouzi Ghoulam’s cross and the ball fell to Hamsik who blasted into the roof of the net from close range.
Higuain doubled Napoli’s tally in the 52nd and equaled Nordahl’s record 10 minutes later.
The Argentina forward saved the best to last, completing his first hat trick of the season in the 72nd,chesting down a ball before a spectacular overhead kick which gave Frosinone goalkeeper Massimo Zappino no chance.
Milan was humiliated at San Siro but ultimately it made little difference to either side.
Mohamed Salah broke the deadlock in the 19th and Stephan El Shaarawy scored against his parent side just before the hour, apologizing to the home fans after doing so.
Emerson Palmieri sealed the win before Carlos Bacca netted a consolation for Milan.
There was a party atmosphere at the Juventus Stadium as Massimiliano Allegri’s team was presented with the trophy after the match. Juventus finished on 91 points, having clinched the title on April 25.
Juventus took an early lead when Patrice Evra headed in Paulo Dybala’s free kick in the fifth minute.
It swiftly went from bad to worse for Sampdoria, which had Martin Skriniar sent off in the 12th for bringing down Mario Mandzukic. Dybala converted the resulting penalty and doubled his tally shortly before halftime.
Giorgio Chiellini, who was making his first start since April 2, and Leonardo Bonucci capped the win.
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