Serie A - Napoli held by Lazio
Napoli failed to break down stubborn table-toppers Lazio as they drew 0-0 in the Serie A at Stadio San Paolo.
The match only really came to life in the second-half where Federico Marcetti, in the Lazio goal, produced several sprawling saves to deny Napoli with victory.
Both teams had come into tonight’s match brimming with confidence, as table-toppers Lazio sought a fifth consecutive away league victory, while Napoli were looking to build on their recent defensive solidity having kept four clean sheets in their last six Serie A games.
Yet the first-half was ultimately stagnate and bereft of chances, with the only significant moment worthy of note being Hugo Campagnaro’s missed header in the 15th minute.
Ezequiel Lavezzi clipped in a free-kick out on the Napoli right-flank towards Marcetti’s near post, and Campagnaro’s clever run to meet it was tempered by the fact that he sent his header high and wide of the Lazio goal.
The visitors rarely threatened during those opening 45 minutes, with Anderson Hernanes dragging his shot wide having collected the ball centrally from Djibirl Cisse’s cushioned lay-off just before half-time.
Indeed, going into the break it was the home fans who had grown most frustrated as Napoli’s attacking trio of Lavezzi, Marek Hamsik and Edinson Cavani failed to click and find a way past an increasingly resilient Lazio backline time and time again.
But that may well have acted as the required impetus for Napoli as they began the second-half in spirited fashion.
First, Lavezzi stung the palms of Marchetti with a low drive in the 49th minute and then, just moments later, forced the Lazio ‘keeper into a fine sprawling save from a curling effort that the Argentinean produced having come in off the left flank.
The siege on the Lazio goal was not to stop there though, as the corner which followed was flicked on by Cavani into the path of Lavezzi, who could only send a shot while acrobatically positioned in mid-air, wide of Marchetti’s goal.
It was then Blerim Dzemaili’s turn to probe, as the Napoli midfielder sent a curling 25-yard free-kick just the wrong side of the Lazio goal in the 51st minute.
Lazio came through this period of pressure unscathed and began to build their own attacks as the game became more and more stretched, but they were still overly reliant on lumping the ball forward to their solitary striker Cisse who had become increasingly marginalised.
In response, Napoli sent on Goran Pandev for the final 20 minutes to bring renewed attacking vigour to their ranks.
But it was their starting striker Cavani who would come closest to giving Napoli the lead shortly afterwards. First, Cavani flashed a shot wide of Marchetti’s near post in the 74th minute and then, a minute later, called on the Lazio ‘keeper to instinctively punch clear a volley which the Uruguayan had sweetly delivered towards goal from a Lavezzi cross.
Despite a powerful Cavani header and late Lavezzi drive, which on both occasions Marchetti got fingertips to, forcing Lazio to retreat further, the Biancocelesti managed to hold on for what had proved to be a hard-fought point.