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Despite a first half that may have given hope of salvaging some much needed points for the home side, Napoli continued its run to European glory in 2014 with a 3-0 win over relegation-bound Pescara. The win leaves Napoli seven points ahead of Milan with four matches to go and kept Juventus from clinching the scudetto this weekend.

This match was an uphill climb from the beginning for the home side as a number of their starting XI were missing, forcing them to start, among others, one of their youth players named Federico Di Francesco. Napoli likewise were missing some key players, most prominently the suspended Edinson Cavani, but starting in his place was former Pescara loanee and hero of last week’s game Lorenzi Insigne. Napoli came out in a 3-4-1-2 with Goran Pandev partnering up front with Insigne (more on this later).

From the first kick Napoli had control of the match and in the first half had a number of chances to take an early lead. The former Pescara striker had a great chance in the fifth minute when he was played on by a great pass by Pandev threaded through the defense but his shot across goal dragged wide. Insigne’s shot in the 16th minute found the back of the net when seemingly a Pescara defender poked the ball away only for Insigne to collect and finish. However, the linesman put up a late offside flag, and further TV replays showed that the ball had been poked away last by his teammate. Despite the dominance by Napoli, Delfini did have a few chances on the break including a good chance in the 38th minute when Paolo Cannavaro made a last second sliding tackle to break up an open shot to the right of De Sanctis.
However, at halftime the visitors were frustrated with their lack of goals butseemingly confident of their domination.

Napoli took control at the beginning of the second half almost from the kickoff. With the ball in the box almost from the beginning of the second half, Pescara tried to clear the area but the ball fell to Inler, whose shot weaved through traffic, took a deflection, and finally beat so-far unflappable Ivan Pelizzoli. Delfini had a final chance to make it a game in the 57th minute when Giuseppe Sculli got his head on a pass in front of goal but was denied by De Sanctis. Immediately on the counter, Christian Maggio found Pandev in the middle and, with a turn, he finished coolly to put Napoli up 2-0. Pescara hero Pelizzoli had to leave soon after due to injury but sub Mattia Perin only allowed one more goal on a Dzemaili screamer from 25 yards out.

Goal Highlights Pescara vs Napoli (0-3) Second Half Serie A [27/4/13]

So while this game had a little drama, the biggest takeaway may have been the success of the Pandev-Insigne strike partnership. With Cavani sitting and reports surfacing that Manchester City will back up a Brinks truck to sign him this summer, the two may be more of the future than Napoli may have hoped. Pandev was very solid and Insigne showed flashes of talent but also flashes of immaturity (numerous unneeded offside calls). It will be interesting to see if the two can succeed together in a more rigorous test.


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