Cavani hat-trick keeps Napoli on title trail

Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani scored a hat-trick as Napoli came back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to beat Lazio 4-3 and cling on to their Serie A title hopes.

Updated: April 04, 2011 11:26 IST
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Milan: Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani scored a hat-trick as Napoli came back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to beat Lazio 4-3 and cling on to their Serie A title hopes.

Napoli moved up to second and trail leaders AC Milan by just three points after their 3-0 derby victory over Inter Milan, third at five points, on Saturday.

Goals from Stefano Mauri and Andre Dias gave Lazio a two-goal lead before Andrea Dossena and Cavani, with his first, levelled matters.

A Salvatore Aronica own goal put the visitors back in front but Cavani, from the penalty spot, equalised and then hit a splendid winner for Walter Mazzarri's team.

The game wasn't without controversy, though, as Cristian Brocchi had a perfectly good goal for Lazio disallowed and the visitors also finished with 10-men as Giuseppe Biava was very harshly dismissed in giving away the penalty.

Despite the three points, title talk was still off the table for Napoli.

"Our behaviour is always the same, we try to win every game and to do our best and the points will be counted up at the end of the season," the hat-trick hero told Sky Sport.

"That's the right way to behave and we're happy because we deserved to win.

"Lazio are a great team, we know what our limits are but we tried to do our best and now we'll celebrate."

The defeat hit Lazio's own Champions League hopes as a win would have put them back into the top four.

Although Napoli dominated early, the visitors took a surprise lead on 29 minutes as Mauri luckily bundled past Michele Pazienza, beat Paolo Cannavaro and then with the outside of his left boot somehow slipped the ball past Morgan De Sanctis.

Lazio seemed to have the game in hand and Napoli's title hopes appeared to be going up in smoke on 57 minutes when the visitors went two ahead.

Javier Garrido swung over an inswinging free-kick and Dias got behind the ball-watching Napoli defence to poke home.

That, however, began a crazy 11-minute spell that saw the match swing back and forth.

On the hour an Ezequiel Lavezzi free-kick flicked off Giuseppe Sculli's head and Dossena arrived at the back post to head high into the roof of the net.

A minute later and another Lavezzi free-kick from the other side this time ballooned off Dias's head to the back post where Christian Maggio nodded it back into the six-yard box for Cavani to head home and complete a rapid turnaround.

Just a couple of minutes after that Lazio had a goal controversially ruled out as Brocchi's pile-driver beat De Sanctis, bounced down over the line and came out, only for the referee to wave play-on.

Yet a minute after that Lazio were back in front as De Sanctis parried a Mauro Zarate strike only for Aronica to inexplicably prod the rebound past his own goalkeeper.

Having already given one poor decision Napoli's way, the referee then handed the hosts an even bigger gift.

He awarded Napoli a penalty after Cavani tumbled theatrically in the box under contact from Biava just as the Uruguayan was about to pull the trigger with what was nonetheless a difficult chance.

If the penalty award was soft, the red card shown to Biava was nothing short of outrageous.

Cavani stroked home the penalty and Napoli had eight minutes to find a winner with a numerical advantage.

That came two minutes from time with a brilliant lobbed finished over Fernando Muslera after Giuseppe Mascara's header over the defence sent Cavani clear.

The Serie A title race is now down to three teams after outsiders Udinese were beaten 2-0 at relegation-threatened Lecce to leave them nine points behind Milan.

Juventus kept their European hopes alive with a 2-0 win at Roma in Sunday's late game.

Milos Krasic opened the scoring with a volley and Alessandro Matri beat the offside trap to slot between goalkeeper Doni's legs for the second.

Seventh-placed Juve are now just two points behind Roma.

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