Napoli earned a crucial title-chasing victory at Marassi, ending Sampdoria’s unbeaten record with an Edinson Cavani penalty, but they made hard work of it.
The Partenopei knew they had to respond to Juve’s 4-1 win over Roma last night to stay top of the table. Ciro Ferrara and Walter Mazzarri both faced their former clubs, but the Blucerchiati missed Nicola Pozzi, Juan Antonio, Andrea Poli, Fernando Tissone and the suspended Maxi Lopez and Enzo Maresca.
Hugo Campagnaro had to stop Krsticic from tapping in a corner from a couple of yards in the opening 90 seconds. Christian Maggio then lobbed over the on-rushing Sergio Romero from a long Campagnaro throw-in.
Marcelo Estigarribia got between two defenders, but couldn’t keep his balance to get the shot away accurately, then Daniele Gastaldello’s free header was over from a Pedro Obiang free kick.
A cross whipped all the way across the six-yard area, but Cavani and Alessandro Gamberini were just unable to get the decisive final touch.
Obiang was fortunate he only received a yellow card for a crunching two-footed tackle on Paolo Cannavaro after 40 minutes. Coach Mazzarri was so furious that he was booked, but then continued his protests even past the point he was sent off. “I want to know why,” he kept asking the official right to his face.
Morgan De Sanctis and Cannavaro both hesitated, thinking the other was going to get the ball, so Eder snuck in and the referee waved play on after a three-way mangle.
Napoli finally had a change of pace and it forced a penalty. Gokhan Inler rolled in for Hamsik, who confused Gastaldello with great footwork to get tripped just inside the box. Gastaldello had already been booked, so saw red, while Cavani converted to put the Partenopei in front.
Lorenzo Insigne’s solo effort whistled just wide and Sergio Romero took the sting out of a Cavani free kick.
Sampdoria even threatened an equaliser in the final minutes, as Napoli clung on.
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Sent off: Gastaldello 66 (S)