Serie A - Cavani at the double as Napoli stun Roma
Edinson Cavani took his season goal tally to 20 with a second-half brace in Napoli’s 2-0 Serie A win at Roma.
In a scrappy, niggly game at the Stadio Olimpico, the Uruguay striker netted a controversial penalty on 49 minutes before sealing the win with a flying finish with seven minutes left.
The victory keeps Napoli second, restoring the three-point gap on leaders Milan that was briefly taken to six after the Rossoneri crushed Parma 4-0 earlier on Saturday.
Inconsistent Roma, meanwhile, paid the price for suspensions to defenders Philippe Mexes and Nicolas Burdisso and stay seventh, although they may slip a place if Juventus avoid defeat against Internazionale on Sunday.
An ill-tempered first half saw four players booked although it could have been worse, with confusion late on after Andrea Dossena received what appeared to be a second yellow card.
It appeared the announcement of his first yellow was an administrative error from officials, but he was lucky either way - the initial non-booking came after an apparently deliberate elbow into the face of Rodrigo Taddei - and, along with several instances of handbags and verbal volleys, it was one of few points of interest in a poor first half.
Christian Maggio was denied from converting Hugo Campagnaro’s low cross by some desperate defending, while Cavani was prevented from a simple finish to Ezequiel Lavezzi’s superb ball as Julio Sergio flew out to intercept.
Otherwise it was tepid and the second half was largely no different as yet more bookings ruined what should have been an entertaining clash between two of Italy’s more attacking sides.
The second half started in controversial fashion when Marek Hamsik, who was surprisingly quiet for most of the night, tumbled under a challenge from Juan. It initially seemed that the Brazilian had caught the Slovakian, but replays hinted that the playmaker may have tripped himself up.
If that proved a talking point, the goal that followed will no doubt provoke intense debate among fans and journalists alike. Cavani’s low penalty crashed against the inside of one post, flew across the line, hit the inside of the other and fell into his path, the former Palermo striker gleefully smashing the loose ball home.
Of course it should not have counted as, while keeper Julio Sergio was close, no Roma player touched the ball and thus Cavani was not permitted to finish: but replays showed that when the ball struck the second post it momentarily crossed the line. The linesman saw it, and the goal was awarded.
Cavani then had a goal disallowed for offside, Juan Zuniga moving too early before crossing, while sub Jeremy Menez forced a flying stop from De Sanctis in a rare moment of quality for Roma.
Had Roma equalised Napoli would have kicked themselves as, with 13 minutes left, two of their best players were guilty of a shocking double miss: Lavezzi sprung the offside trap and, one-on-one, ran straight into Julio Sergio, while Cavani put the rebound wide.
There was another moment of booking controversy which hinted that the evening’s stadium officials were lacking in competence when Marco Cassetti was, like Dossena earlier, shown a second yellow card but, as with his opposite number, the first booking never actually took place.
It was all academic in the end as, from a wonderful cross from centre-half Paolo Cannavaro, the swashbuckling Cavani flew in with a sweet finish to end Roma’s hopes of a comeback and keep Napoli in the title race.
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