A second-half spot-kick by the Uruguayan spared the hosts' blushes and earned them a share of the spoils despite a below-par showingNapoli needed a second-half penalty to register an unconvincing 1-1 draw with Bologna in Monday's lone Serie A clash at the San Paolo.
Robert Aquafresca sent the visitors in front with an opportunistic strike after nearly quarter of an hour, but Edinson Cavani equalised from the spot with 19 minutes remaining to earn a point for the home side, who never managed to hit top gear in a disappointing outing.
The hosts fashioned the first opening when Hugo Campagnaro’s flick found Marek Hamsik unmarked in the area, but his shot was parried by Jean Gillet, who was also on hand to snare the rebound from the feet of the Slovak.
However, it was Bologna who struck first in the 14th minute. Nico Pulzetti twisted and turned on the edge of the area, before slipping through a pass that caught the entire Napoli back four flat-footed and allowed Acquafresca to slot home.
The visitors seemed content to sit deep and soak up the pressure after the goal, with Napoli slow to respond to the setback. A curled effort by Goran Pandev that flew just over the bar was about the best they could muster for the remainder of the half.
Matters did not improve much for Walter Mazzarri’s men as the second half unfolded as they continued to find it difficult to break through the determined Bologna ranks, often resorting to speculative strikes from long range in a bid to find a way back into the game.
Salvatore Aronica went close with one such effort shortly after the hour mark, but Gillet was alert to block the defender’s attempt from distance.
It seemed unlikely that Napoli would level the scores through open play, but they received a stroke of fortune in the 71st minute when they were awarded a penalty after Diego Perez handled Gokhan Inler’s shot in the area. Cavani stepped up to the spot to beat Gillet with aplomb.
The home side upped the tempo slightly after the equaliser, but it was the visitors who went closest to stealing the points, with Marco Di Vaio spurning two chances late on as the match finished all square.
The result sees Napoli remain in sixth place with 28 points, four behind nearest rivals Inter. Bologna, meanwhile, move into 16th place with 19 points, and are four points off the relegation places.