Serie A - Cavani treble fires Napoli second

Sun, 09 Jan 21:45:00 2011

A hat-trick of headers from an inspired Edinson Cavani lifted Napoli past Juventus 3-0 at the Stadio San Paolo and into second in Serie A.

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Juventus were often the match of their hosts but lapses at the back and a lack of luck at crucial moments at the front cost them dearly.

All eyes were on Luca Toni as the veteran striker made his Juventus debut having arrived from Genoa in the week.

Napoli, knowing a win would lift the club to second in Serie A, stuck to their favoured attacking mould, with Walter Mazzarri operating a 3-4-2-1 formation.

It was a fairly gentle opening quarter of an hour, however, as both sides prodded and probed without taking too many risks.

Juventus looked the sharper of the sides though Andrea Dossena's cross was parried by Marco Storari in the best attacking moment for the hosts in the first fifteen minutes.

Width, however, proved crucial and after 19 minutes a well-worked move down the right allowed Christian Maggio to cross, and Cavani was totally unmarked to nod in his first.

The Bianconeri fought back admirably in a frantic spell, with Amauri forcing a fingertip save from their former keeper Morgan De Sanctis.

And from the resulting corner Luca Toni looked to have beaten De Sanctis to the ball and nodded in an equaliser.

To the shock of the away fans, the referee disallowed the goal for a foul, though replays did not appear to vindicate the decision.

It proved costly for Juventus just minutes later, too, as an unchallenged Dossena picked up the ball on the left and swept in a perfect cross for Cavani to nod home.

Two goals in six minutes, and the hosts were in total control of the game.

Juventus continued to push after the break, looking to salvage something from the game with more determination after a team-talk from Luigi Del Neri.

Toni was again a menace in the air, and forced a point-blank save from De Sanctis as the visitors dominated the first minutes of the second half.

But from almost nothing the hosts killed the game with a beautiful move to provide Cavani with his hat-trick.

54 minutes in, Ezequiel Lavezzi flicked the ball through to Marek Hamsik, who hit a tempting cross to the far post where Cavani judged a diving header perfectly to score at the near post.

Juventus perservered, and substitute Alessandro Del Piero struck an excellent set-piece which Giorgio Chiellini came within a whisker of booting in at the far post.

At the other end a magnificent solo run on the break from Lavezzi nearly released Cavani for a one-on-one chance for his fourth of the game.

With five minutes remaining Cavani was substituted so he could receive the standing ovation from the Napoli fans his display of finishing had deserved.

The clock ran down and Juventus were consigned to a disappointing defeat - a second consecutive reverse after an embarrassing 4-1 loss at home to Parma in midweek - which leaves them fifth and nine points behind the league leaders AC Milan.

With an impressive win, however, Napoli have affirmed their title credentials on a weekend when the rest of the top six in Serie A failed to record victories.

Follow live text commentary on these games this weekend: Napoli v Fiorentina; Inter v Bologna; Juventus v Bari; Lecce v AC Milan

Mark Patterson / Eurosport

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