Blerim Dzemaili bagged a hat-trick and Edinson Cavani snatched a late brace as Napoli won an absolutely thriller 5-3 away to Torino!
The Partenopei were under pressure to keep hold of second place and had numerous problems, as Edinson Cavani missed his flight back from international duty and had to meet the team directly in Turin last night, so he was only fit for the bench. Hugo Campagnaro and goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis were injured, so Antonio Rosati got only his second ever Serie A start in a Napoli jersey. Toro were unbeaten at home in 2013, but missed Matteo Brighi and Valter Birsa.
It was an intense start to the game with chances for both sides charged down from Alessio Cerci and Christian Maggio.
Blerim Dzemaili broke the deadlock when a corner was cleared to outside the box and the Swiss midfielder hit an absolute screamer to surprise Jean-Francois Gillet. Dzemaili started his Serie A career at Torino, so refused to celebrate against his former fans.
The Granata went so close to an equaliser, but Mario Alberto Santana turned a free header over from six yards on Paulo Vitor Barreto’s cross.
Juan Camilo Zuniga also blasted just off target and Lorenzo Insigne’s scuffed daisy-cutter was wide of the near post.
Torino equalised when a corner was not dealt with properly and Maggio blocked Kamil Glik’s effort, but it fell to Barreto who managed to bundle it over the line from a tight angle despite the efforts of Rosati and Paolo Cannavaro.
Cerci’s corner flashed all the way across the face of goal and nobody was able to get a final touch.
The referee pointed to the spot when Maggio burst into the box on Marek Hamsik’s through ball and was brought down by Mattia Darmian. As Cavani was on the bench, Hamsik stepped up and his weak effort was palmed away by Gillet, who guessed the right angle.
Napoli did go in front just 70 seconds after the restart, as Hamsik pulled back to the edge of the box where Dzemaili was again ready to hit a daisy-cutter into the near bottom corner. The midfielder was clearly relishing this visit back to his old hunting ground.
Insigne’s free kick whistled inches past the near top corner of the goal, while Dzemaili nearly got a hat-trick but fired straight at Gillet on the counter-attack.
Torino had penalty appeals when a corner was knocked down and Cannavaro slid into the block on Riccardo Meggiorini, but the referee waved play on. Replays suggest the Granata had reason to complain.
A spectacular Cannavaro overhead kick from a corner was on target, but Gillet plucked it out of the air. Cavani was introduced for the final 25 minutes to replace Insigne.
A Torino corner was knocked down for Cerci’s volley that flashed across the face of goal. A free kick was knocked on and Cavani mistimed his clearance, as it struck him on the arm, so the goal line referee signalled for a penalty.
Substitute Jonathas was chosen to take the spot-kick and he rolled it confidently past Rosati into the near bottom corner.
Napoli poured forward in a bid to re-take the lead, but instead they were caught out on the counter as Meggiorini pounced on a distracted Britos, went round Rosati and placed a great finish from a tight angle.
It still wasn’t over, as after Pablo Armero had penalty appeals, the play continued and Zuniga pulled back from the by-line for Dzemaili’s wonderful scorcher from the edge of the box to make it 3-3! He completed his hat-trick with the outside of his right boot for a swerving finish.
Both teams were still pushing and Valon Behrami charged down a Matteo Darmian shot, then Dzemaili went on the counter to earn a free kick. Cavani made up for his earlier error with a magnificent right-foot free kick that curled over the wall and into the near top corner, giving Gillet no chance. Napoli went 4-3 up in Turin just five minutes after they were behind.
Cavani made sure of the result in the final minute when he got in front of Rodriguez for a perfect glancing header from Armero’s chipped cross.
Saved penalty: Hamsik 39 (N)