Palermo came from behind to all but end Napoli's title bid thanks to goals from Balzaretti and a Cesare Bovo penalty, canceling out Cavani's second minute spot-kick
Palermo recovered from conceding an early penalty to pull off a 2-1 comeback victory under the sun at Stadio Renzo Barbera to end Napoli’s title hopes. Uruguayan superstar Edison Cavani put the visitors ahead, before goals from Federico Balzaretti and Cesare Bovo gave Palermo the three points after a first half marred by bizarre refereeing decisions from Antonio Damato.
The Neapolitan club was awarded a spotkick within the first minute for a handball against a careless Mattia Cassani, and Edison Cavani stepped up to net his 33rd goal of the season, sending Salvatore Sirigu the wrong way to score against his old club.
The Sicilians missed a golden opportunity to equalize, Cesare Bovo somehow blasting it over from within the six yard box after a goalmouth scramble caused by some suspect defending by Napoli from a corner.
Hernandez had a penalty shout for the home side, his powerful shot striking Hugo Campagnaro on the arm as it looked to be heading goalward. The home side got its reward in the 38th minute. Cassani made up for his earlier error, crossing the ball for crossing for Federico Balzaretti, who blasted it home with a left footed volley.
The first half had always been a bad tempered affair, and things came to a head in the 40th minute when Palermo manager Delio Rossi was sent to the stands for entering the pitch to protest Giuseppe Mascara not receiving a second yellow card.
The referee was the center of attention once again. Giulio Migliaccio had the ball in the back of the net for the home side, but the referee ruled it out, only to give a penalty. The Palermo players protested, but Cesare Bovo held his nerve to give the Rosanero a well-deserved half-time lead.
Palermo started the second period the same way it ended the first. Balzaretti saw a header strike the post, a feat which Hernandez replicated minutes later, as his shot rattled the woodwork.
Napoli could see its title challenge slipping away from them and it began to press Palermo, but it lacked any cutting edge in their approach. Palermo always looked dangerous on the break. Javier Pastore and Josip Ilicic missed good chances, while Hernandez forced a great save from Morgan de Sanctis, before sending over the easiest of chances.
Palermo wasn't made to regret their wastefulness in the first half. It is unlikely that Palermo will qualify for the Europa League, while Napoli’s title bid is all but over, as AC Milan has the chance to go eight points clear.Follow Goal.com on to get the latest soccer news directly. Check out Goal.com's page; be part of the best soccer fan community in the world!