Napoli boost European chance

A review of the weekend's action in the Italian Serie A as Napoli opened up a four-point cushion over third-place AC Milan.

Last Updated: 07/04/13 at 22:22 Post Comment

Napoli have the advantage in the race for Europe

Napoli have the advantage in the race for Europe

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Napoli opened up a four-point cushion over third-place AC Milan in the hunt for a berth in the group stage of the Champions League next season thanks to a comfortable 2-0 win over struggling Genoa.

Goals from Goran Pandev and Blerim Dzemaili in the first half earned Walter Mazzarri's side all three points at the Stadio San Paolo with Edinson Cavani seeing his penalty saved in the second half.

A third goal was not required to assert Napoli's authority on the game, though, as they reduced the arrears on Juventus to nine points with seven games of the season left, but perhaps more importantly increased their advantage over the Rossoneri.

A second-half hat-trick from German Denis saw 10-man Atalanta confound Inter Milan 4-3 in a frenetic game at San Siro.

Inter's task was to chase Fiorentina out of fourth place and move closer to the Champions League places and, in a tame first half, veteran Tommaso Rocchi opened his account for the club to send them on their way.

Giacomo Bonaventura's response appeared to be a minor setback as substitute Ricky Alvarez, on for the injured Antonio Cassano, scored twice inside four minutes.

Denis would go one better, though, the Argentinian adding two classy goals to a dubious penalty to fire Atalanta into 13th place and leave the home faithful in stunned silence.

A late red card for Cristian Raimondi offered a glimmer of hope for Inter but Andrea Ranocchia's point-blank miss left his side in fifth and clinging on to Europa League football.

A spirited recovery from 10-man Fiorentina earned them a priceless point with a 2-2 draw at home to AC Milan on Sunday.

Riccardo Montolivo put the visitors in front in the 14th minute before Nenad Tomovic was given his marching orders in the 39th.

Things looked grim for Fiorentina when Mathieu Flamini doubled Milan's lead in the 62nd minute, but penalties from Adem Ljajic and Davide Pizarro salvaged a point for Vincenzo Montella's side, who remain six points behind their opponents, but edged two points clear of Inter Milan and Lazio.

Palermo moved one step closer to beating the drop as a wonder goal from Josip Ilicic inspired an invaluable 3-1 victory at Sampdoria.

Last week's surprise win over Roma had brought the Rosanero within three points of 17th place towards the end of a joyless season spent almost entirely in the bottom three and Steve Von Bergen's first-half opener lifted spirits even further.

Gianni Munari's swift equaliser was forgotten almost immediately as Ilicic scored an unforgettable goal on the end of a dazzling run that Samp would never respond to.

Santiago Garcia then made all three points safe to move Palermo onto 27 points with seven games remaining.

Antonio Di Natale returned to scoring form as his two goals guided Udinese to their first win in four matches as they beat Chievo 3-0.

Di Natale scored twice in five first-half minutes as he recorded his 16th and 17th goals against the Flying Donkeys.

Paul Papp pulled one back 10 minutes before the break only for Di Natale to turn provider with Mehdi Benatia on target five minutes from full-time.

The result was Udinese's first since they beat Pescara at the start of March and boosts their chances of a European spot.

Struggling Siena ground out a goalless draw with Parma in a lethargic meeting at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Parma dominated possession but could not make it count despite an enthusiastic performance from Amauri, while Siena could live to regret two dropped points in their quest for survival with Innocent Emeghara uncharacteristically wasteful.

Cagliari came within inches of taking all three points at Catania, with a goalless draw seriously hindering the Sicilians' chances of playing in Europe next season.

Rolando Maran's Elefanti have their eye on an unlikely top-five finish after emerging as the surprise package in Serie A but an uncharacteristically wayward Gonzalo Bergessio failed to help them on their way.

At the final whistle, however, the solitary point was more than welcome in east Sicily after Mauricio Pinilla missed a late chance to fire Cagliari above Parma and into the top 10.

On Saturday, two goals in as many minutes from Mirko Vucinic took Juventus to within touching distance of the title with a 2-1 win over struggling Pescara.

In a largely one-sided game, Vucinic struck twice to see off the challenge of a Pescara side who found a consolation through Emmanuel Cascione's stunning effort.

The win lifts Antonio Conte's side 12 points clear of Napoli at the top of the table, and warms them up for Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final tie with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

Rolando Bianchi's last-gasp goal earned Torino a point from the jaws of defeat in a 2-2 draw against Bologna at the Stadio Dall'Ara.

Paulo Barreto put the visitors in front in the 25th minute with his second goal in as many games, but a second-half fightback looked like it was going to take Bologna into the top half of the table.

Panagiotis Kone scored first in the 65th minute with Tiberio Guarente putting the hosts in front in the 87th minute.

The game was not over, though, and Torino substitute Bianchi stole in to grab an equaliser with the last kick of the game.


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