Victor Osimhen was among the scorers for Napoli who before kick-off honoured their former goalkeeper Claudio Garella, a Serie A title winner in the 1980s with both southern Italy’s biggest club and Verona.
An AFP reporter at the game heard a section of the home support launch monkey chants at the Nigeria forward midway through the first half, before he stretched to jab home Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s knockdown in stoppage time to put the away side 2-1 ahead at half-time.
It was the latest episode of racist chanting at Verona who have a long history of far-right sympathies among their hardcore support.
After netting his first goal of the season, Osimhen took off his protective face mask and mimicked crying into a pitch-side camera, suggesting he had heard abuse before his goal even though he did not speak about it afterwards to DAZN.
“I think it’s important to start well because we lost some key players, real leaders in the team. And of course it is left to us to step up,” said Osimhen.
Napoli have had a tricky summer after losing stalwarts Kalidou Koulibaly, Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens and with frustrated fans demanding that film mogul owner Aurelio De Laurentiis sell the club.
However Luciano Spalletti’s team were on top form at the Stadio Bentegodi, with goals from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Osimhen, Piotr Zielinski, Stanislav Lobotka and Matteo Politano ensuring they got off to a perfect start.
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Verona battled and were level early in the second half through Kevin Lasagna and Thomas Henry, but shorn of last season’s stars Giovanni Simeone – on his way to Napoli on loan – and Gianluca Caprari, there was little Gabriele Cioffi’s side could do under a second-half onslaught.
It was another big defeat after being dumped out of the Italian Cup and humiliated by second-tier Bari, a 4-1 loss a fortnight ago suggesting that it could be a long campaign for last season’s surprise package.