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Serie A

  • January 25, 2014
  • • 17:00
  • • Stadio San Paolo, Napoli
  • Referee: M. Irrati
  • • Attendance: 39157

Napoli 1-1 Chievo: Albiol rescues point after Sardo stunner

Napoli 1-1 Chievo: Albiol rescues point after Sardo stunner

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The veteran rifled a shot into the top corner early in the first half and the visitors looked to be heading for a shock win before the defender's strike in the closing minutes

Raul Albiol snatched a point for Napoli as a battling Chievo side held them to a 1-1 draw on Saturday.

A stunning first-half strike from Gennaro Sardo looked to have sealed a shock win for the Verona outfit, but the Spanish defender's close-range finish in the final five minutes spared the San Paolo side's blushes.

The result provides a valuable point for relegation-threatened Chievo but means Napoli could lose further ground in the Serie A title race when Roma and Juventus both play tomorrow.

Napoli handed a first start since November to Marek Hamsik, while Pepe Reina also returned to the squad following injury and new signing Jorginho joined him on the bench.

Dries Mertens had the pick of the opening chances, as he flashed a header just over the bar from six yards following a whipped cross from Jose Callejon.

But it was Chievo who opened the scoring after 18 minutes. Sardo cut in from the right and played a neat one-two with Alberto Paloschi before rifling a stunning shot into the top corner past the helpless Raffael.

Chievo began to exert their control on proceedings and came close again through Thereau's header, before Higuain contrived to fire across goal and wide when given the open goal at his mercy from Callejon's cross.

Mertens then came close to an equaliser as he rattled the near post following good work from Callejon and Higuain, before Callejon brought a low save from Christian Puggioni as Chievo held on until the break.

Hamsik came close with a deflected shot before Albiol rifled a shot over the bar and Higuain turned a cross just wide as the Partenopei looked to up the tempo after the break.

Mertens then rattled the post once more with a free kick before Puggioni parried another cross, but Napoli continued to be frustrated by a resolute Chievo back line as they battled to find a breakthrough.

The ball barely reached Napoli's half as the match drew to a close but the Partenopei looked to have run out of ideas before an equaliser arrived from an unlikely source.

Mertens' cross bounced up awkwardly off Albiol, who kept his composure to turn and shoot low past Puggioni from 12 yards.

Napoli threw caution to the wind as they looked for a winner but, ultimately, Chievo stood firm for a well-deserved point.