Napoli are through to the Coppa Italia final after overcoming Siena 2-0 on Wednesday night, to secure an aggregate 3-2 semi-final victory.
The visitors went into the tie without a number of first-team names, particularly in attack and faced a full-strength Partenopei line-up on Wednesday night.
As expected, Walter Mazzarri named Christian Maggio and Edinson Cavani in the Vesuviani first XI, despite doubts over their fitness due to recent knocks. It was a full-strength Azzurri side, with Blerim Dzemaili missing out to Gokhan Inler in the middle and Juan Zuniga again keeping Andrea Dossena on the bench.
Siena knew before Wednesday night’s fixture that they would be missing first-choice strikers Emanuele Calaio and Mattia Destro, whilst Gaetano D’Agostino, Angelo and Francesco Bolzoni all didn’t make the matchday squad either. Giuseppe Sannino opted for a defensive 5-4-1 shape to try to counter-act Napoli’s attack.
The Robur had the advantage in this tie, leading 2-1 from the first leg, so only a 2-1 score-line tonight in Napoli’s favour would have taken the tie to extra time.
Napoli were aiming for a first Coppa Italia final appearance in 15 years, whilst Siena were looking towards a first ever appearance in the final. Both sides knew that the winners would be facing Juventus in the final in late May, after the Turin side’s semi-final win over Milan on Tuesday night.
It took a few minutes for the first chance of the night to open up and it fell to the home side. Ezequiel Lavezzi’s expert through-ball released Zuniga down the left-hand side into the penalty area, but his low cut-back to Cavani was not matched by the forward, whose finish was high over the bar.
Napoli’s next opportunity was converted to give them the lead, but it took Siena’s assistance. A Lavezzi free-kick from the right was pushed in at a low angle and, in facing his own goal, Simone Vergassola was the unfortunate Siena man to deflect the ball into his own net.
A Marcelo Larrondo cross at the other end almost saw the Tuscans draw level immediately, as it required Hugo Campagnaro’s intervention to stop Mannini converting at the far post.
Cavani almost spectacularly doubled Napoli’s advantage on the night with a left-footed volley off the back of a Lavezzi knock-down. Zeljko Brkic did well to save the effort in the middle of his goal with the one hand.
Siena followed this up with a good spell of possession, but for holding on to the ball they still struggled to test Napoli, visibly lacking numbers in and around Morgan De Sanctis’ goal.
Walter Gargano was caught in possession but Larrondo was wasteful with the opportunity, whilst from Gargano winning it back, a counter-attack at the other end almost caused chaos, as Brkic misjudged coming out to collect Marek Hamsik’s cross, only for Emanuele Pesoli to clear it to safety.
Napoli scored with their next counter, as from a Siena free-kick, a burst from Cavani through the middle saw him release Lavezzi down the right of the pitch. The Argentine’s long pass then found Hamsik on the left, whose cross in turn found Cavani again for the header inside the area. The entire move was done at a sprint.
Inler tested Brkic soon after with a well-struck volley, whilst Cavani’s follow-up from a tight angle just tipped over the bar.
Maggio, struggling with an injury that forced him off last week at Chelsea also saw him substituted before the break, being replaced by Dossena.
A more subdued affair, the second half was somewhat pierced by a long-range effort from Brienza. Speculative, however, it was easily gathered by De Sanctis.
After a poor free-kick from Inler at one end, Siena had a fantastic opportunity on the break, but wasted a five-on-three counter-attack to only earn a throw-in.
Off the ball, Pesoli appeared to subtlety jab Cavani in the back of the head, but nothing came of the incident.
Sannino looked to change things around the hour mark, striker Erjon Bogdani was brought on for defender Belmonte. He made an immediate impression on Paolo Cannavaro, forcing the defender off briefly after the duo clashed heads in challenging for a header.
Brienza pulled a shot wide for the visitors during a rare moment of space in the final third, but his teammates reacted in suggesting that a pass may have been the No 23’s better option.
There was a sticky moment for the referee, when he intercepted a Hamsik pass on the edge of Napoli’s penalty area - Siena took possession but fortunately for the official, nothing came of it.
The Partenopei received another warning sign after Brienza had another effort from long range that went just a few yards wide of De Sanctis’ right post.
The home side responded, but Lavezzi missed what was a great opportunity for 3-0 on the night. Hamsik’s run into the area was finished with a pass into the Argentine’s path, only for the No 22 to pull his curling effort over the bar. Soon after, a Dzemaili through-ball needed a last-minute interception to avoid releasing an unmarked Lavezzi into the Tuscan’s penalty box with two teammates square.
Brienza almost found a way through with less than 10 to play. Parravicini’s unchecked run into the area resulted in a cut-back to Brienza, whilst the midfielder’s effort forced a late block from Cannavaro, six yards out.
At the other end, it was Hamsik’s turn to waste a chance, after substitute Goran Pandev had played him into the area and into space, the Slovakian dragged his low effort wide of the opposite post.
In the closing stages and into stoppages, Siena pressed forward against a nervous Napoli for a goal to take the game into extra time, but their crossing was wasteful and inaccurate.
Napoli 2-0 Siena
Scorers: Vergassola OG 11 (N), Cavani 31 (N)
Napoli: De Sanctis; Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Aronica; Maggio (Dossena 41), Inler, Gargano (Dzemaili 63), Zuniga; Hamsik, Lavezzi (Pandev 82), Cavani
Siena: Brkic; Pesoli, Terzi, Contini, Belmonte (Bogdani 66), Vergassola; Parravicini, Rossi, Mannini (Sestu 77), Brienza; Larrondo (Gonzalez 79)
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.