Monday, November 26, 2012
Match Report: Cagliari 0-1 Napoli
Blerim Dzemaili claimed the first chance of the match, going for goal from distance, but the shot was fairly weak and was easily gathered by Michael Agazzi to his left.
The Partenopei had a tense moment on 14 minutes when the ball fell to Nene in the area off of a deflection, but Alessandro Gamberini managed to throw his body in the way of the close range effort.
At the other end, Lorenzo Insigne attempted an audacious half-volley after allowing the ball to bounce from a throw in, but the diminutive striker went wide of the mark from outside the box.
On 22 minutes, Insigne nearly gave Napoli the lead as he brilliantly beat his defender with a deft first touch and unleashed an arching curler from long range, but the post denied the former Pescara man with Agazzi rooted to the spot. Soon after, the 21 year-old received a square ball from Valon Behrami inside the 6 yard box, but spurned his chance with an attempted flick rather than going for goal.
The home side found themselves screaming in protest for a penalty on 29 minutes when Gamberini dove into a challenge on Daniele Conti, but the referee waved play on as the Cagliari skipper went absolutely mental with rage.
Some intricate interplay between Danilo Avelar and Radja Nainggolan saw the Belgian released down the left flank to cross early for Thiago Ribiero, but Miguel Britos was able to block away the penultimate shot.
A fluid counter attack from Napoli nearly broke the deadlock soon after, but Insigne fired wide from a dangerous position after controlling a fantastic Dzemaili lofted ball in the box.
The action continued as Conti won a header on a poorly defended corner and skimmed the post as each side pressed vigorously to establish an advantage on the scoreline.
On the stroke of halftime, the Isolani nearly grabbed the opener when Morgan De Sanctis slipped whilst clearing the ball upfield and flubbed his clearance to Avelar, but the Brazilian's attempt sailed just over the bar as the Italian shot stopper scrambled back to his line to cover.
After the restart, Nainggolan turned in the area following a set-piece, but shot straight at De Sanctis. Moments later, Conti lashed a low cross into the area that deflected off of the sliding Cannavaro and looped skyward to clip the crossbar with the keeper beaten.
On 55 minutes, Nainggolan went close on the volley from distance, but his stinging drive whistled just past the post.
Giandomenico Mesto and Edu Vargas replaced Christian Maggio and Dzemaili respectively as Walter Mazzarri looked for more explosiveness up front in the throes of a deadlock.
The Chilean nearly provided the required finish just minutes after coming on, but saw his effort from 6 yards blocked crucially by the Cagliari defense.
On 72 minutes, the Partenopei finally broke through to take the lead. A short pass by Insigne for Juan Zuniga saw the Colombian seemingly dragged down in the area, but the ball ultimately ran to Marek Hamsik for the Slovakia international to curl past Agazzi to the far post.
Cagliari struggled to muster a response as Victor Ibarbo came on to replace Albin Ekdal to provide some extra offensive firepower, whilst Thiago Ribiero made way for Pablo Ceppelini.
Ceppellini blazed over the bar from a difficult angle, and soon after Conti went just wide on the volley from a corner.
Vargas nearly killed off the match in stoppages after exchanging passes with Hamsik, but Agazzi did well to come off his line and bravely stop the 23 year-old in his tracks.
The home side were enraged at the final whistle when the referee blew for full time despite Cagliari having won a corner, but there were no complaints from Napoli as Mazzirri's men appeared relieved at having claimed a scrappy victory.
With the win, Napoli climb to second place in the table, 2 points adrift of league leaders Juventus with Inter still to play on Monday night.
Man of the Match: Miguel Britos, Napoli (86% passing; 4 tackles)
Marek Hamsik (72')