TURIN, Italy — Federico Gatti once worked as a bricklayer and played soccer only at night. Now he’s taking over for Giorgio Chiellini as the physical presence in Juventus’ defense.
The 6-foot-3 (1.90-meter) Gatti used his body to maximum effect to head in the only goal in Juventus’ 1-0 win over defending Serie A champion Napoli on Friday.
Rising to meet a cross from Andrea Cambiaso, Gatti easily muscled his way up over Napoli captain Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Amir Rrahmani to redirect the ball into the far corner.
It was Gatti’s third goal this season — more than any other defender in the Italian league. He also scored a late winner in a 2-1 win at Monza a week ago.
“Federico is an example for all of us,” Juventus captain Danilo said. “He went through some tough times but he remained strong.”
Juventus took the lead in Serie A by one point over Inter Milan, which hosts Udinese on Saturday.
Napoli, which hasn't scored in three of its last four Serie A matches, dropped 12 points behind Juventus in fifth place.
Including a defeat at Real Madrid in the Champions League, Napoli has won one match and lost three since Walter Mazzarri replaced Rudi Garcia as coach of the Partenopei.
Napoli dribbling wizard Khvicha Kvaratskhelia inexplicably missed an open look at the goal in the first half.
Having hit the post earlier, Juventus forward Dusan Vlahovic exited with an apparent injury later in the second half.