Christian Maggio's goal at the death gave the hosts all three points at the San Paolo...A last-minute goal by Christian Maggio has given Napoli maximum points against Palermo at the San Paolo on Monday evening.
The visitors were on the back foot as they tried to keep the Azzurri's attacking trio of Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik at bay. On nine minutes, Hamsik supplied a pass for Maggio, who unleashed a wicked shot, forcing Salvatore Sirigu to make a diving save.
Fabrizio Miccoli tried to give the Rosanero the lead, and was allowed some time on the ball after 22 minutes but he could not set himself up properly to shoot, and the chance went begging.
Michele Pazienza's near-post header from a corner seven minutes later almost saw Hamsik get on the end of it, but Federico Balzaretti was first to react and clear the danger.
It was Miccoli again who created space for himself just after the half-hour mark, as he cut inside, but he could not curl his right-footed shot around Morgan De Sanctis and the right-hand post.
With only four minutes to go before the end of the first-half, Josip Ilicic's short pass from a free-kick set up Mattia Cassani, but his shot went wide of the post.
Whatever coach Delio Rossi said to his players at half-time got through to Ilicic, as his turn and shot went just over the crossbar after 20 seconds.
The visitors then had a penalty claim on 58 minutes, as a three-on-three counterattacking opportunity saw Salvatore Aronica face-palm Ilicic in the box, but the referee waved play on.
Six minutes later, Maggio's square ball from the bye-line was backheeled by Hamsik into space for Lavezzi to run on to at the back-post and score, but a magical diving Sirigu ensured the scores remained deadlocked.
Cavani and Maggio tried to inspire the home side, as they opened up the Palermo defence once again. Maggio sprinted into the box, but his low shot was blocked by Sirigu.
Cassani almost played Massimo Maccarone - who came on for Miccoli earlier in the half - into space on 84 minutes, but a last-ditch clearance by Grava ensured the Rosanero wouldn't score on this occasion.
Napoli had a wonderful chance to claim maximum points deep into injury-time, as Cavani's chest-down into space was toe-poked to Maggio, but the Italian international slipped at the crucial moment.
Maggio finally had his just desserts in the final moment of the match as Cavani timed his run to perfection to square a pass for the right-back, who slid the ball - and himself - into the goal to ensure the three points were the Partenopei's.
The win moves Napoli level with Juventus on 27 points whilst Palermo remain on 23.
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