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It was another super Sunday for Neapolitans as their Uruguayan talisman Edinson Cavani recorded his second treble strike of the season in the 4-0 destruction of Sampdoria to leave Il Vesuviani just four points behind leaders Milan. The game was effectively sown up by half-time thanks to a double salvo from Cavani. His first goal came after 17 minutes as he bulldozed his way through the heart of the visitors defence to dispatch a clinical left foot strike into the bottom corner of the net.

His second came from the penalty spot in injury time at the end of the half after he had been brought down by a Sampdoria defence that simply had no answer to the 23-year-olds brilliance. Within 12 minutes of the re-start, the home side’s advantage had doubled thanks to Marik Hamsik and Cavani, who looked able to score whenever the fancy took him. Coach Walter Mazzarri is desperately trying to keep his players focused amid the ever increasing euphoria that is sweeping the city, but even he must now concede that his side look to be Milan’s closest challengers for the Serie A title. After last week’s win in Bari, some of the players stopped off at a motorway service station for pizza, on May the 22nd, they may just be dining out in one of Naples finest eateries to celebrate the club’s first title for 21 years.

Palermo let a two goal advantage slip on a dramatic afternoon at the Giuseppe Meazza as Inter kept up the pressure on their cross city neighbours at the top of the table. The Sicilians were in total control of the match at half-time as goals from Fabrizio Miccoli and Antonio Nocerino had seemingly put the game out of the reach of the home side. Then Inter coach Leonardo introduced new signing Giampaolo Pazzini for the second-half and within 12 minutes of his introduction, the deficit had been halved.

The visitors then had another chance to regain their two goal cushion when they were awarded a penalty but incredibly, midfield maestro Javier Pastore’s spot-kick was saved by Júlio César . The islanders were made to pay for that miss just ten minutes later when Pazzini grabbed his second goal of the game to level things up. Three minutes later, the home sides incredible comeback was complete when striker Samuel Eto’o did what Pastore had  failed to do and converted a penalty to break Sicilian hearts. It was a bitter pill for coach Delio Rossi to swallow and now he must re-invigorate his troops before Wednesday evening’s home blockbuster against Juventus.

Lecce were close, so close, to claiming all three points in their relegation shoot-out against Cesena on Sunday afternoon at the Stadio Via Del Mare but were undone in the cruelest of circumstances by an injury time sucker punch from the visitors. After 12 minutes of the contest, the omens looked good for Luigi De Canio’s men when striker Daniele Corvia put the home side ahead with a scrappy goal that just crossed the visitors goal line. Lecce failed to capitalize on their early superiority and the visitors began to look increasingly threatening as the match wore on.

With time running out, Lecce defender Nenad Tomović handled the ball in the penalty area to give the visitors a lifeline but the big Croatian striker Igor Budan’s spot-kick was brilliantly saved by Antonio Rosati. It looked like the Salentini were going to hold on for all three points but four minutes into injury time, Albanian striker Erjon Bogdani got in front of the home sides defence to head home a dramatic equaliser to leave De Canio absolutely furious on the sidelines. On Wednesday, the Puglian’s head north to take on Parma.

Diego Simeone has a 100% record since he took over the reigns at Catania - played two, lost two, goals for zero, goals against four. On Saturday evening against Milan, his side played the last 35 minutes against ten men after new Rossoneri signing Mark Van Bommel had picked up his second yellow card of the game. That incident seemed to galvanise the visitors rather than the home side and just four minutes later they were ahead after a goalkeeping howler from Mariano Andujar gifted Brazilian striker Robinho an opening goal. With time ebbing away, Catania midfielder Simone Pesce somehow managed to put the ball over the crossbar from six yards with the goal at his mercy and shortly afterwards, the visitors tied up the match thanks to more brilliance from Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Gli Elefanti are in free-fall and Simeone needs answers quick ahead of Wednesday evening’s trip to Cesena in a relegation six pointer.

There was more drama in Sardinia were Cagliari hosted basement club Bari. After receiving severe criticism last week for omitting in-form striker Alessandro Matri in favour of Robert Aquafresca, Rossoblu coach Roberto Donadoni decided to start with the 26-year-old on Sunday afternoon and was rewarded as the striker netted twice in the opening 13 minutes to give the home side the early advantage -  Juventus will have taken note as rumours continue to circulate around the peninsula about the strikers imminent arrival in Turin. On 15 minutes however, their lead was halved thanks to a goal from on- loan Bari striker Stefano Okaka whose shot took a wicked deflection to fly past a helpless Michael Agazzi in the home sides goal. The first-half drama was still not finished when just four minutes from the interval, the visitors were awarded a penalty only for another new signing, Gergely Rudolph to see his spot-kick saved by Agazzi.

The second-half continued in the same vain as the first as Donadoni replaced his other striker Nenê with Aquafresca. In the dying minutes of the game, the substitute had the chance to put the game beyond the visitors reach but his penalty was saved by Gillet in the Bari goal. The home side clung on to their slender advantage to claim all three points and leave Bari drifting away at the foot of the Serie A table. The Sardinian tifosi now face an anxious wait to see if they can keep hang on to Matri as the transfer window comes to a close before Wednesday’s trip to Genoa to face Sampdoria. Bari welcome Inter to Puglia on Thursday evening.

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