Napoli fly into third place after an Edinson Cavani hat-trick crushed Roma 4-1 in the Derby del Sud.
The Derby del Sud is always a spectacular encounter and expectations were high when Zdenek Zeman rolled into town. Napoli ended 2012 with four consecutive defeats in all competition and a last-gasp win at Siena, while they were docked two points in the betting scandal that saw Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava banned for six months. Roma were on a roll with six wins from their last seven, though Marquinhos was suspended. Francesco Totti and Pablo Daniel Osvaldo both had flu this week, so only the captain was fit to start.
It took just four minutes to break the deadlock with an aggressive Napoli side, as Goran Pandev’s through ball found a hole in the centre of the defence and Edinson Cavani kept his cool to side-foot past the on-rushing goalkeeper.
Totti’s free kick was charged down and Miralem Pjanic mis-kicked a volley. Cavani’s first touch let him down from another Pandev through ball and the Giallorossi were able to scramble out for a corner. During that set piece, Totti was booked for a high foot, which caught Valon Behrami in the chest.
Cavani’s free kick from the edge of the box was deflected over by Totti and Mauro Goicoechea smothered a Gokhan Inler counter-attack.
Moments later, Morgan De Sanctis was crucial sprinting off his line to charge down as Mattia Destro came sliding in.
A Hamsik-Cavani give-and-go was intercepted going into the box, then on the counter Destro’s angled drive was too weak from Totti’s assist and De Sanctis was able to parry with one hand.
De Sanctis was again impressive as he flew to fingertip a fierce Pjanic snapshot out from under the bar. Erik Lamela also fired a powerful effort that the Napoli goalkeeper smothered after good work from Destro.
Pandev could’ve scored in first half stoppages, but couldn’t keep the ball in play at the by-line after sprinting past defenders.
Straight after the restart Napoli doubled their lead with Cavani again set up by Pandev. The Macedonian had his back to goal when gathering a Juan Camilo Zuniga pull-back from the by-line, but managed to flick it across for Cavani, who took a touch, spun round and beat Goicoechea from nine yards. It put him top of the Capocannoniere charts ahead of Stephan El Shaarawy.
Hamsik should’ve made it 3-0 when taking advantage of a Pjanic error to sprint forward, but he narrowed the angle too much going round Goicoechea.
Cavani was sent clear on goal, but Ivan Piris managed to stop him in a one-on-one with a well-timed tackle.
Lamela nodded wide and Destro drilled off target from a Totti through ball under pressure from Alessandro Gamberini. After that miss, Osvaldo replaced the former Siena striker.
A Totti free kick was deflected into the air and De Sanctis had to palm it out from under the bar.
Roma somehow failed to score on 67 minutes as De Sanctis first parried from Pjanic at point-blank range, then got back up to beat away another shot until Michael Bradley fired wide from six yards.
They were made to pay, as moments later Napoli added a third with Cavani’s hat-trick. The Uruguayan rose above the crowd to nod in a corner, the ball squirming between the goalkeeper’s legs.
Osvaldo’s header was deflected over from close range and it was the substitute who got one back. He sprung the offside trap from a smart Pjanic through ball to prod the angled drive past an on-rushing De Sanctis.
However, Pjanic received a second yellow card for a late sliding tackle on Blerim Dzemaili on the edge of the box.
Cavani curled a free kick over and Bradley’s diving header was just wide from a Federico Balzaretti cross. El Matador had it in the net for a fourth time, but was offside on Pandev’s pass. Cavani went clear on goal again and Goicoechea got a fingertip to the ball.
Another Bradley header was well blocked on the ground by De Sanctis, as Roma switched to a 3-3-3 formation.
However, that left them open to the counter-attack and Christian Maggio snatched the fourth goal. Goicoechea did well to slow him down after running on to a cross-field pass, but the follow-up was in from a tight angle with his weaker left foot.
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk
Sent off: Pjanic 74 (R)