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Serie A

  • November 29, 2011
  • • 2:45 PM
  • • Stadio San Paolo, Napoli
  • Referee: P. Tagliavento
  • • Attendance: 48000
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Napoli 3-3 Juventus: Pepe and Estigarribia drag table-toppers back from 3-1 down to clinch point in San Paolo classic

Napoli 3-3 Juventus: Pepe and Estigarribia drag table-toppers back from 3-1 down to clinch point in San Paolo classic

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Goran Pandev looked set to hog the headlines after striking twice for the Partenopei in the absence of Edinson Cavani but the visitors snatched a draw with a stunning fightback

Juventus preserved its unbeaten record in Serie A by coming from two goals down to claim a 3-3 draw with Napoli after a thrilling encounter at the San Paolo on Tuesday evening.

After Marek Hamsik had missed a retaken penalty, the Slovak gave the hosts the lead with a header before Goran Pandev made it 2-0 just before the interval.

Alessandro Matri pulled one back for Juve at the start of the second period but Pandev seemingly sealed the points for Napoli when he restored his side’s two-goal cushion on 68 minutes.

However, the visitors weren’t done and they posted a swift reply through Marcelo Estigarribia before deservedly claiming a share of the spoils when Simone Pepe fired home with 10 minutes to go.

Juventus had the better of a lively opening to the game, with Mirko Vucinic dragging a right-footed shot across the face of the Napoli goal after finding himself unmarked in the box.

However, it was the hosts who should have taken lead 13 minutes in. The Partenopei thought they had done so, too, with Hamsik firing home clinically from the penalty spot after Andrea Pirlo had foolishly dived in on Ezequiel Lavezzi.

However, the referee ordered a retake because of encroachment from Gokhan Inler, among others, and Hamsik blazed his second attempt from 12 yards out high over the bar.

The Slovakian, though, made amends for his horror miss less than 10 minutes later by finding the bottom left corner with a downward header, after the ball had dropped to him in the six-yard box following a free kick from Lavezzi from the left hand side.

Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon then got down well to save a low drive from outside the box from Pandev, but the Italy captain was powerless to stop the on-loan Inter forward from doubling the home side’s advantage just before the break.

There was an element of luck about the goal as Pirlo’s attempted clearance ricocheted into Pandev’s path, but there was nothing fortuitous about the Macedonia’s precise finish into the far corner.

Down 2-0 at halftime, Juve was in real danger of losing its unblemished record in the league but dragged itself right back into the game just four minutes after the restart. Matri calmly slotted home after being the recipient of a wonderfully disguised through ball from Arturo Vidal.

Now reinvigorated, Juventus began to dominate proceedings and Vucinic drew a save from Morgan De Sanctis in the 54th minute with a decent strike after a rampaging run.

However, Napoli landed one of its classic sucker punches midway through the second half, Pandev controlling Christian Maggio’s cross from the right wing with his left foot, then teeing it up for himself with his left knee before volleying the ball home via the right post.

Juve refused to give up, though, and hauled itself back to within a goal for a second time four minutes later, when an unmarked Estigarribia prodded past De Sanctis after Vucinic’s cross from the left had found its way to the unmarked Paraguayan.

Juve then snatched a point when Pepe found the bottom corner following a mazy run, after the ball had deflected back into his path.

The draw means Juve now tops the table by two points ahead of AC Milan, while Napoli climbs to sixth, but the home side will be distraught that it was unable to convert a 3-1 second half lead into a victory.

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