Edinson Cavani celebrated a brace as Napoli crushed Lecce in a thrilling 4-2 encounter.
Walter Mazzarri rotated the squad ahead of the decisive Champions League trip to Villarreal, but Edinson Cavani returned from an ankle injury. Lecce warned Coach Eusebio Di Francesco this week he was fighting for his job. Ruben Olivera, Guillermo Giacomazzi, Moris Carrozzieri and Edward Ofere were sidelined. Play wasn’t easy under driving rain and freezing temperatures.
Cristian Pasquato had a good chance early on with his spectacular backheel flick deflected just wide of the near post by Salvatore Aronica. A corner was pulled back for Luis Muriel to drill over from 10 yards.
Andrea Dossena’s long-range strike was going to trouble Benassi, but teamate Pocho Lavezzi accidentally got in the way to block the shot. Cavani could only find the side-netting from a tight angle, while Aronica was again decisive to stop Muriel in the area.
Napoli finally broke the deadlock on 26 minutes with Lavezzi’s third goal of the season. Pocho pulled something special out of the hat, as he started wide left and ran rings around Cuadrado and Massimo Oddo to surprise Benassi at the near post.
The Partenopei so nearly made it 2-0 moments later, as a corner found Goran Pandev from a yard, but a combination of Benassi and Oddo managed a double goalline clearance.
It was Cavani who got the second goal, springing the offside trap on a delightful Pandev volleyed control and through ball down the middle to immediately flick it over the on-rushing goalkeeper.
Pandev tested Benassi from distance, while the ‘keeper and Nenad Tomovic rather chaotically cleared from the Macedonian.
Lecce had fallen to pieces and Blerim Dzemaili got the third when pouncing on a poor clearance to the edge of the box, smashing the low strike into the near bottom corner.
Yet it was so nearly 3-1 before half-time, as Muriel pulled across for Pasquato to fire into the empty net, but Ignacio Fideleff came sliding in for a crucial goalline clearance.
Lecce made a double change at the break, returning to a four-man defence. Lavezzi’s free kick skimmed the woodwork, but the visitors did get one back with a well-worked team move.
Muriel got in front of Aronica to latch on to a Djamel Mesbah through ball down the left, then lobbed Massimo De Sanctis for a classy finish across the face of goal.
Lecce would not give in and Muriel snuck infront of a distracted Fideleff to nod just wide of the upright and probably should’ve scored. Another defensive error risked big, as Andrea Bertolacci dribbled into the area and Dossena just about muscled Daniele Corvia off the ball.
Lavezzi had a great chance to get Napoli’s fourth by dribbling past Oddo, but the finish was off balance. Benassi then smothered a strike from substitute Marek Hamsik.
The fourth did come with Cavani completing his brace. Lavezzi again burst past Oddo down the left and rolled across for the totally unmarked Matador to tap in at the back post.
Lavezzi stung Benassi’s palms, but Lecce Coach Di Francesco was sent off for dissent.
Lecce did get another one back with the last kick of the game, as Corvia steered a looping header over De Sanctis from a corner.
Sent off: Di Francesco 86 (Lecce Coach)