Cavani strikes as Napoli close gap to Juve

27 January 2013 05:17

Edinson Cavani scored his 18th league goal of the season to take Napoli to within three points of Serie A leaders Juventus as Parma lost their unbeaten home record on Sunday.

Juventus had spurned the chance to secure an eight-point lead on Saturday when they were denied a last-gasp penalty in a 1-1 draw at home to Genoa.

Despite being kept on a tight rein by Parma, Cavani produced a classy solo finish in the 85th minute to give the visitors a 2-1 win after Napoli defender Paolo Cannavaro's had put through his own goal to cancel out Marek Hamsik's opener.

Napoli remain second on 46 points but are now just three behind champions Juve and three clear of Lazio, who were stunned 1-0 by Chievo at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday.

Cannavaro told Sky Sport Italia: "Parma gave us a tough match, they showed they can aspire to something this season.

"But we showed a lot of character and were able to come up with the winner."

Cannavaro, the brother of former Italy defender Fabio, added: "The title race is neither open nor closed. The important thing is to simply be in the race."

AC Milan, meanwhile, survived some tense moments away to Atalanta but emerged with a precious 1-0 win thanks to Stephan El Shaarawy's first-half strike following M'Baye Niang's through ball.

Milan's 11th win of the campaign, following their dismal start to the season, means they move up to fifth, 12 points behind Juve with Fiorentina going the other way after a 2-1 defeat at Catania.

With a Champions League last 16 tie against Barcelona on the horizon coach Massimiliano Allegri said, however: "This changes nothing. Today the boys played well but didn't seal the match and we were under threat till the very end.

"We're on the right road but we need to keep winning. Let's see how we're doing at the end of February and, above all, at the end of March."

Elsewhere, Argentinian teenager Mauro Icardi, whose performances have already drawn admirers, scored four times as Sampdoria thrashed Pescara 6-0 in Genoa.

A late Thiago Ribeiro goal allowed Cagliari to secure a 1-1 draw at home to Palermo, who had taken a first-half lead through Josip Ilicic.

Udinese added to the woes of basement side Siena, who had no reply to a 36th minute strike by Colombian Luis Muriel.

Napoli's credentials as bona fide title challengers have been put to the test on more than one occasion away from home this season.

However, Hamsik calmed Walter Mazzarri's nerves with a 20th-minute opener after stretching his foot out to send Blerim Dzemaili's delightful through ball past Antonio Mirante at the far post.

Napoli 'keeper Morgan De Sanctis then palmed out Nicola Sansone's angled shot from close range as Parma's claims that the ball had crossed the line fell on deaf ears.

Napoli had the lion's share of the chances but pressure from Parma early in the second half paid off when Nicola Sansone's shot across goal was turned into the net by Cannavaro.

In the 85th minute, however, Cavani left the Parma defence trailing on his way to collecting a through ball and rounding Mirante to virtually seal the win.

Earlier, Bologna and Roma shared the spoils after a six-goal thriller.

Roma snatched a ninth-minute lead through Alessandro Florenzi, only for Alberto Gilardino to level minutes later.

Pablo Osvaldo restored Roma's lead on 17 minutes with a free header but Bologna fought back and levelled through Manolo Gabbiadini.

The hosts took the lead for the first time through Cristian Pasquato on 54 minutes, but Roma levelled when Greek midfielder Panagiotis Tachtsidis headed home a free kick on 74 minutes.

In Sunday's late match Inter Milan, in fourth at 10 points off the lead, host Torino.

Source: AFP