Though there are still 11 rounds left to be played, Friday's match between Napoli and Juventus -- the two top teams in Serie A -- was still spotlighted as a vital one with the two sides separated by six points in the table. And all of the angst stockpiled by each side seemed to be concentrated into Napoli striker Edinson Cavani and Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini.
The two adversaries brought a nastiness out of each other that boiled over during injury time at the end of the first half. With score at 1-1 after a 10th minute goal from Chiellini and a 43rd minute equalizer from Gokhan Inler, Chiellini tried to control Cavani by pulling the Uruguayan's hair. Cavani then got his revenge by nailing Chiellini in the side of the head with what looked to be a deliberate elbow. Cavani was shown a yellow card for that.
Once the match ended in a 1-1 draw, Cavani and Chiellini showed there were no hard feelings by shaking hands and exchanging shirts. Said Chiellini after the match (via Football Italia):
“What happened can be seen on the footage,” said the Juventus defender on Sky Sport Italia.
“We spoke afterwards and it’s only right that for 90 minutes we knock each other about, but at the final whistle it’s all over. It stays on the pitch and is a great challenge to be taking on champions.”
It's always nice to see good sportsmanship. The hair-pulling and elbows to the face not so much, though.