Napoli lose ground
Serie A’s top marksman Edinson Cavani failed to score for the fourth league game in a row as fading Napoli lost further ground on leaders Juventus with a goalless draw at Udinese yesterday.
Napoli’s third draw in succession meant they were left six points behind Juventus, who easily beat Siena 3-0 on Sunday.
Walter Mazzarri’s side have mustered only one goal in those three games, a run which has coincided with a drought for Uruguay forward Cavani who had averaged over a goal a game in all competitions until the end of January.
Cavani remains stuck on 18 goals.
The game never really got going with Napoli carving out the best chances in the first half, but none good enough to test Daniele Padelli in the Udinese goal
After an appeal for a penalty was turned down when Cavani went to ground inside the penalty area, the Uruguayan then sliced a pass from Marek Hamsik from 10 yards out in the 22nd minute.
Ten minutes before half-time, Padelli was finally called into action to save from Hamsik’s shot from Juan Zuniga’s cross.
Udinese striker Antonio Di Natale got his first sight of goal just before the break when a good burst of pace created room for a shot, which he sent over the crossbar with his weaker left foot.
A deflected Di Natale effort set up Roberto Pereyra for Udinese’s best chance of the night, but he lifted the ball over the crossbar from six yards out.
Hamsik volleyed the ball wide at the other end before another penalty appeal was turned down when former Udinese wing-back Pablo Armero went down in the area, but he was shown a yellow card for diving.
Shortly after, Cavani confirmed it was not his night as he made a bad contact with another shot which almost turned into an assist for Armero, who was just too late to meet the ball at the far post.
Napoli spent the last 20 minutes on the attack, but Padelli was protected by a strong defence which held firm without wavering while Mazzarri’s men lacked the creativity to break them down.
Second-placed Napoli have 52 points from 26 games and host Juventus on Friday evening in what could be their last chance to keep the title race alive.
Udinese, on their part, remain ninth in the standings on 37 points, three points adrift of Roma and with a lot of work to do if they are to push themselves in contention for a place in Europe.
Lazio go third
In the other match played yesterday, Lazio struck twice in the first half to see off Pescara 2-0 at the Olympic Stadium.
It was a vital victory for the Biancocelesti as they have now put themselves back on pole position for the Italy’s final slot in next season’s Champions League as they are now third in the standings on 47 points, two ahead of Milan who were held by their neighbouring rivals Inter on Sunday night.
The Rome side dominated proceedings but they had to wait until the 29th minute to surge ahead.
Senad Lulic set up Stefan Radu who unleashed a powerful first-time shot that flew past a helpless Stefano Pelizzoli in the Pescara goal.
Lazio struck a second goal six minutes later and it came courtesy of another bullet strike.
This time it was Lulic who provided a moment of brilliance when he sped clear and unleased a powerful shot that flew into the top corner.
Enjoying a two-goal cushion lead, Lazio spent much of the second half administering their advantage as Pescara struggled to put themselves back in contention.
Playing today: 20.00 Bologna vs Fiorentina.