Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Napoli striker Edinson Cavani will celebrate his 24th birthday on Monday safe in the knowledge that his two strikes at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night against Roma has converted even the most fervent of non believers that his team are there for the long haul in this most compelling of championship races.

On Saturday evening, for the first time since 1993, the Partenopei won in the capital against the Giallorossiin a game that was littered with controversy. Right from the opening exchanges, when midfielder Andrea Dossena slammed into Roma defender Marco Cassetti, it was clear that match referee Mauro Bergonziwas in for a busy night. The first-half came to a head with a despicable spitting incident involving the Roma full-back Aleandro Rosi and Argentinean genius Ezequiel Lavezzi. Both players blamed the other for a series of events that have no place on a football field. Following a trial by television, the culprits have both been given three game bans which will rule Lavezzi out of the title showdown against Milan in two weeks time.

Thankfully, after the interval, football became the main talking point and of course,  it was Edinson Cavani who stole the show once again. He put his side ahead from the penalty spot on 50 minutes after Marek Hamsik had been tripped by Roma’s Brazilian defender Juan and six minutes from time, he secured the points by getting on the end of a cross from club captain Paolo Cannavaro. At the start of the season, Cavani set himself a target of 25 goals, he has netted 20 league goals already so he is set to eclipse that figure before well before Easter. The clubs sporting director Alberto Bigon told the Italian media on Sunday that “you cannot put a price on Cavani at the moment“. In a city obsessed with football, there will be no-one who disagrees with that statement.

With 10 minutes to go on Sunday afternoon at the Stadio Angelo Massimino in Catania, Gli Elefanti coach Diego Simeone looked on the verge of an early exit from the club. His team trailed 1-2 to a Lecce side that had come from behind thanks to goals from Brazilian striker Jeda and midfielder Gianni Munari that had cancelled out a first-half header from Matias Silvestre. The president of the Sicilian side Antonio Pulverenti, had been making noises in the media that he was unhappy with his new coach who had only acquired two points since taking over from Marco Giampaoloin January. But, with time ebbing away, the home side were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the visitors penalty area. Step forward dead ball specialist Francesco Lodi, who curled a beautiful angled kick into the right hand corner of the net. Simeone was given a lifeline as his team had salvaged a point, or so he thought. Just six minutes later, Lodi gave the Argentinean tactician his first win in Sicily thanks to a carbon copy strike  to give the islanders a huge boost in their fight against relegation. Lecce coach Luigi De Canio simply watched in disbelief as his side saw victory snatched away from them in the cruelest of circumstances and there was more woe for the Salentini after the final whistle when captain Guillermo Giacomazzi was sent off for abusing the match officials -  he will now miss next Sunday’s home match against Juventus.

Staying in Sicily, the relationship between Palermo coach Delio Rossi and club president Maurizio Zamparini is at an all time low after the Rosanero were beaten at home by a spirited Fiorentina side. In the lead up to the game, Palermo fans had produced an online partition for their followers to sign to present to Zamparini expressing their desire to see Rossi remain at the club amid  rumours of his departure in the summer. After their Sunday lunchtime defeat, any hope of the 50-year-old coach remaining in Sicily after May have evaporated as the patron went into a tirade about how his man at the helm had no idea about defensive tactics. Palermo were ahead twice in the match through goals from Javier Pastore and Antonio Nocerino, but the visitors took the points thanks to strikes by Alberto Gilardino, Michele Caporese, an own goal from Cesare Bovo and Riccardo Montolivo. The Sicilians head to Bologna next weekend but rest assured, the internal wranglings within the club are set to dominate the sports pages over the next seven days.

After seeing his team dismantle Chievo at the Stadio Saint’Elia on Sunday afternoon, Cagliari coach Roberto Donadoni described the performance as “the perfect reply to last week’s defeat to Juventus“. The Sardinians were in truly unstoppable form and the match was effectively ended as a contest before the interval as goals from Daniele Conti, Michele Canini and  Nenê fired the home side into a 3-0 lead. Nenê grabbed his second of the afternoon 18 minutes from time then left the pitch to a standing ovation as memories of former fans favourite, Alessandro Matri, faded into the distance. A late consolation from Cyril  Théréau was scant reward for the visitors who had been well and truly beaten. Cagliari’s chain smoking president Massimo Cellino looked ecstatic in the tribune d’onore as his team now prepare for next Saturday’s trip to Milan to face Inter.

New Bari coach Bortollo Mutti saw his side earn a point at home to Genoa on Sunday afternoon in a goalless draw that was more entertaining than the scoreline suggests. In truth, it could have been so much better for the Puglians had match referee Sebastiano Peruzzo  not chalked off what looked like a perfectly valid goal from on-loan striker Stefano Okaka. The official claimed he saw a foul by Argentinean striker  José Castillo earlier in the move as he rose for a header with Genoa defender Kaka Kaladze, replays suggested the decision was harsh to say the least. The fans may have given up hope of playing top-flight football next season at the Stadio San Nicola, Mutti has to convince his playing staff that there is still light at the end of the tunnel.

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