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Lorenzo Tonelli made his debut for Napoli and scored the game-winning goal against Sampdoria on Saturday night.

Napoli and Sampdoria met in a clash at the Stadio San Paolo as Serie A action returned. With Kalidou Koulibaly called to Senegal for the African Cup of Nations, Lorenzo Tonelli was thrusted into the lineup.

The defender joined Napoli from Empoli in the summer due to his relationship with Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri. However, his debut had been delayed due to injury and physical problems.

“I had to endure a few physical problems,” Tonelli said to Sky Sport. “But, let’s say that working to get back, I was lucky enough to be ready in the end.”

The home side struggled throughout the game, especially the first half. Napoli’s passing game and movement, which has resulted in many goals, was not the same. The club found itself down 1-0 due to an own goal by Elseid Hysaj.

However, the partenopei turned it around late in the second half. Sampdoria went down to 10 men and Napoli turned up the offensive pressure.

“In the first half, it was hard to come out, but we did well not to give up,” Tonelli said to Premium Sport. “In the end, we took home what we deserved. The hard work pays off and I’m the example of that.”

Tonelli scored the game-winning goal in the 95th minute to seal the deal in his debut. The Italian told Sky that his teammates have supported him since day one.

“This group here is fantastic,” Tonelli said. “They have all helped me from the beginning. The fact that all of them came to celebrate with me is symbolic.”

Tonelli also spoke to Premium Sport about his night and described it as unforgettable.

“This night is unforgettable and incredible. When you tell a dream as a child, you think about this. I have no words.”

When Tonelli’s chance came his way in the last minute, he said he knew he would score.

“Before taking that shot I thought, ‘I’m going to score’,” Tonelli said to Sky.

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