Gonzalo Higuain made the most of an Etrit Berisha error as Napoli beat Lazio in Rome to leap into third place.
Just one point separated these teams in a showdown for that third Champions League spot. The Aquile had numerous injury problems, missing Stefano Mauri, Felipe Anderson, Stefan de Vrij, Michael Ciani, Ederson, Alvaro Gonzalez, Santiago Gentiletti, Edson Braafheid and suspended Federico Marchetti. The Partenopei were still fuming after a 3-1 defeat to Juventus and surprisingly dropped Marek Hamsik, but Ivan Strinic got his debut for suspended Miguel Angel Britos.
Gonzalo Higuain gave Napoli the lead with a goal out of nowhere, as he got a yard off Stefan Radu down the right flank and beat Etrit Berisha from a seemingly impossible angle. He blasted it into the near top corner under the bar and the goalkeeper was taken by surprise. Pipita celebrated by holding up the jersey of injured teammate Lorenzo Insigne.
A Lucas Biglia screamer from distance flashed just wide, but Marco Parolo went even closer when he nodded a free kick on to the crossbar with Rafael beaten.
Pedro Luis Cavanda wasted a golden opportunity, as he was left totally unmarked only to volley straight at Rafael from 10 yards.
Antonio Candreva incredibly redirected a Parolo diving header on to the upright from point-blank range, but his blushes were saved by the linesman’s flag.
Miroslav Klose came on for the second half, but within three minutes it was Higuain who had forced a save out of Berisha with his angled drive. Keita Balde Diao had penalty appeals when his ball struck Raul Albiol on the hand, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was flush to his body.
Higuain went on the counter and flashed a finish inches past the far post, but Dries Mertens was booked for simulation in the box.
Lazio threatened again, Candreva only getting a glancing header to a fierce cross and as the move continued Keita’s shot was charged down. Moments later Kalidou Koulibaly crucially blocked a Filip Djordjevic volley, but Napoli put up a defensive wall.
Jose Callejon thought it was 2-0 in stoppages when he chested down a Hamsik cross at the back post, but Bruno Pereirinha deflected off the line from point-blank range.
With the last kick of the game, Rafael plucked a Keita volley out of the air.
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