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On Saturday evening, Napoli proved to the rest of Serie A that they are serious title contenders after a hard fought 1-0 victory against Genoa at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. A brilliant headed goal from Slovakian international Marik Hamšík after 26 minutes, was enough to give Walter Mazzarri’s men all three points and move the Vesuviani up to second place in the championship standings. In a tense and at times brutal affair, the visitors displayed their battling qualities to keep the home side at bay and collect their fifth victory on the road in the current campaign. What will be most pleasing to Mazzarri, is the depth of the squad, with Juan  Zúñiga coming in to replace the injured Ezequiel Lavezzi and doing a sterling  job alongside Hamšík in supporting lone striker Edinson Cavani. The only set back on the night for the Vesuviani, was the second-half dismissal of Michele Pazienza, who will now start his Christmas holidays earlier than anticipated as he misses the final league game of 2010 at home to Lecce next weekend.

Sardinia triumphed over Sicily on Sunday afternoon as Cagliari beat Catania 3-0 at the Stadio Sant’Elia. The match was illuminated by a brilliant hat-trick from Brazilian striker Nenê. His first strike came after 12 minutes, as he executed a wonderful volley after Alessandro Matri’s initial effort had cannoned off the bar. His second arrived 16 minutes later, with a clinical header from a  cross by defender Alessandro Agostini and he guaranteed collection of the match ball on 71 minutes with another powerful header, this time from a corner by Andrea Lazzari. The result moves the Sardinians up to 11th position and maintains coach Roberto Donadoni’s 100% home record since taking over from Pierpaolo Bisoli. Catania coach Marco Giampaolo, was furious with the officials after seeing his side end the match with just nine men following the dismissals of Brazilian midfielder Raphael Martinho and Japanese striker Takayuki Morimoto - Il Elifanti are now just three points away from the drop-zone.

Palermo recovered from last Monday’s setback in Napoli to beat Parma 3-1 at the Stadio Renzo Barbera on Saturday evening and keep their dreams of Champions League football very much alive and kicking. The visitors took a surprise lead after only eight minutes through defender Alessandro Lucarelli and at half-time, it looked like a shock was on the cards. Rosanero coach Delio Rossi, made a surprising change during the interval, replacing Argentinean sensation Javier Pastore, with Chilean striker Mauricio Panilla. His decision was vindicated seven minutes after the re-start when the 26-year-old pulled his team level. 10 minutes later, captain Fabrizio Miccoli put the home side ahead and right on the stroke of full-time, an own goal by former Palermo defender Cristian Zaccardo, wrapped up the points for the Sicilians.

Lecce earned three priceless points on Sunday afternoon with a 3-2 win over Chievo at the Stadio Via Del Mare to ease some of the pressure on under fire coach Luigi De Canio. The home side looked to have the game in the bag at half-time as goals from Nigerian striker Edward Ofere and Argentinean midfielder Ignacio Piatti, gave them a two goal cushion. The deficit was halved 11 minutes after the interval, with a goal from Chievo’s Uruguayan midfielder Mariano Bogliacino. However, 14 minutes later, Piatti grabbed his second of the afternoon to ease the tension inside the stadium, before the visitors grabbed a late second goal through defender Davide Mandelli five minutes into injury time. Lecce now sit third bottom with 15 points whilst Chievo are in the relative safety of mid-table.

Bari are in crisis after defeat in the capital against Roma leaves them five points adrift at the foot of the Serie A table. Coach Gian Piero Ventura’s future at the Puglian club now looks in serious doubt with his team only collecting two points from their last seven outings. The 62-year-old tactician is not being helped by a crippling injury list that has robbed him of at least 10 first-team players. In truth, they were never in the contest on Sunday afternoon at the Stadio Olimpico, as the home side, whilst far from being at their best, brushed aside Ventura’s men with the minimum of fuss. It looked at first as though their luck might be changing after goalkeeper  Jean-François Gillet, saved a penalty from Roma legend Francesco Totti, but just 11 minutes later, the home side went in front courtesy of a goal from Brazilian defender Juan - replays showed that the player was quite clearly in an offside position as the ball was played into the penalty area, before he nipped round the back of the static Salentini defence to slide a shot past  Gillet and effectively close out the match. The winter break cannot come soon enough for the I Galletti - whether they start 2011 with a new man at the helm, remains to be seen.

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