Not only did Napoli fail to beat a Catania side with 10 men for 88 minutes, but they were also saved by the woodwork.
The Partenopei had never been able to conquer this stadium in Serie A, so it was a tough test that awaited Walter Mazzarri’s men as they defended a 100 per cent record. The Coach rotated his squad in the Europa League midweek and still crushed AIK 4-0 with an Edu Vargas hat-trick, but Miguel Angel Britos was injured.
It was a lightning start for Napoli, as after 60 seconds Catania lost possession and Edinson Cavani was going clear on goal only to be brought down by Pablo Alvarez. Under the rules, it was a clear scoring opportunity and therefore the red card was inevitable for the Argentine.
The Elefantini suddenly found themselves having to play the entire match with 10 men. Mariano Andujar did well to smother a Goran Pandev pass at the feet of Cavani.
Andujar parried a Cavani effort and it was cleared before Pandev could pounce on the loose ball. Marek Hamsik combined with Juan Camilo Zuniga to drill an angled drive across the face of goal.
Nonetheless, 10-man Catania had a great opportunity to take the lead before half-time when Nicolas Spolli and Gonzalo Bergessio just failed to get on the end of a Francesco Lodi cross.
Andujar flew to have his glove stung by a Cavani rocket from distance. Walter Mazzarri needed more spice, so threw on Lorenzo Insigne for midfielder Gokhan Inler. Pandev curled a free kick over the target and Andujar rushed off his line to smother at Cavani’s feet.
Cavani wasted the chance to pounce on a parried Hamsik shot and Nicola Legrottaglie deflected a Vargas screamer out for a corner.
However, in the final minutes it was Morgan De Sanctis who needed a desperate save to stop 10-man Catania from winning! The Napoli goalkeeper got down well at full stretch to deny a Papu Gomez angled drive on the counter-attack.
Moments later the Elefantini went even closer on the counter and Gomez’s strike beat De Sanctis to crack against the base of the far post.
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Sent off: Alvarez 2 (C)