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Benitez: Lazio were scared of Higuain

The Argentine scored twice in a clinical display as Napoli ran out 4-2 winners at Stadio Olimpico, and his coach was full of praise for his partnership with Goran Pandev

Napoli boss Rafa Benitez hailed the performance of Gonzalo Higuain in the 4-2 win over Lazio on Monday, claiming he had the home defence running scared.

Higuain struck his first Serie A goals from open play since early September with a brilliant solo effort in the first half and a clinical side-foot finish in the second, as the Partenopei ended a run of three consecutive defeats in all competitions.

"Higuain is clearly a player who can make the difference for us. I spoke to him before the game, but I spoke to many of the players," Benitez told Sky Sport Italia.

"The most important thing is not just that he scored, but that he put in a good performance, scared defenders and create space for his team-mates.

"Pandev and Higuain are two intelligent players who have that kind of movement in attack. They can hold up the ball or attack the space, so it becomes difficult for opposition defenders to know what to do."

Benitez admitted his side were not quite at their best on what was an uneven surface at Stadio Olimpico, but was impressed with their work-rate.

"We're still at 75 per cent," he continued.

"We have to remember this was a difficult game in which we had to show intensity, character and determination. It's also important to note the pitch was awful and the ball didn't bounce regularly. It was difficult for us to play our style of football on this turf.

"We needed to rediscover the tactical level we had in earlier games. This game required hard work, which is what the players did, and I am satisfied."

Napoli's win moves them to within just four points of second-placed Roma, but Benitez insisted he would not become carried away as his side look to haul in leaders Juventus.

"We take each game as it comes for the three points," he added. "Each match is just as important as the next."

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