Napoli ended Lecce’s unbeaten run at the Via del Mare thanks to a Marek Hamsik stunner and Edinson Cavani strike.
Serse Cosmi’s men looked doomed only a few weeks ago, but were unbeaten in six and closed the gap to just one point going into this round. Napoli had ended a five-game winless streak by beating Novara at the weekend, but had a striker shortage as Goran Pandev was suspended with Ezequiel Lavezzi injured.
The first shot of the game was a goal, as Gokhan Inler’s free kick came to the edge of the box, where Marek Hamsik unleashed a fierce volley that flew under the bar with Massimiliano Benassi well beaten.
Within a minute Morgan De Sanctis had to rush off his line to close down David Di Michele, then the goalkeeper was fortunate no Lecce players were ready to take advantage when he missed a cross.
Edinson Cavani sprung the offside trap to half-volley over from a tight angle, but Christian Maggio really should’ve made it 2-0 to Napoli on 23 minutes. He burst through the middle of two defenders on a Hamsik assist, but hesitated and allowed Nenad Tomovic to sneak it off his foot.
Napoli were absolutely dominant, so Serse Cosmi made a tactical change, replacing Davide Brivio with Di Matteo to inject more pace in the one-on-one with Maggio.
Luis Muriel somehow failed to equalise on 36 minutes, as he was sent totally clear by David Di Michele from nine yards, but hesitated and fired straight at the goalkeeper.
The tactical substitution seemed to work, as Lecce got into the game at the Stadio Via del Mare and began to put Napoli under pressure. Nonetheless, Blerim Dzemaili’s screamer stung Benassi’s palms at the near stick after combining with Camilo Zuniga.
Napoli doubled their advantage straight after the restart, as Paolo Cannavaro robbed Muriel in midfield and Cavani burst forward on a counter-attack, keeping his cool to place the angled drive past Benassi. It was Cavani’s 100th goal for an Italian club.
Moments later Juan Cuadrado slipped during a dribbling move and Paolo Cannavaro reacted angrily, assuming it was simulation, but the referee calmed the situation and booked both Cannavaro and Gennaro Delvecchio. Cuadrado was already on a yellow card.
Cavani should’ve made it 3-0 when firing straight at Benassi at the end of a well-worked move, but made up for it by rushing back to help the defence. De Sanctis risked a disaster when coming out to gather the ball shepherded by Salvatore Aronica, but was completely wrong-footed and fortunate to stop Di Michele pouncing.
Napoli lost Hugo Campagnaro to a muscular problem and Delvecchio blasted over the bar, while Walter Gargano got back to stop Di Michele after sprinting past Aronica.
Zuniga fired over from a tight angle after combining with Cavani.