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Italy - Serie A
November 29, 2011
• Stadio San Paolo, Napoli
Referee: P. Tagliavento
• Attendance: 48000
M. Hamšík 23'
G. Pandev 41', 68'
A. Matri 48'
M. Estigarribia 72'
S. Pepe 80'
Well, I can't quite tell you just how brilliant that game was. 3-1 down with 20 minutes to go, it looked for all the world as if Napoli would end Juve's impressive unbeaten run. But goals from Estigarriba and Pepe mean Juve will go into the weekend three points clear of Milan at the top of Serie A. I've been Alex Mott, thanks for joining me. If you're on Twitter at all this evening, do drop me a line, and I'll be happy to answer any Italian football questions you may have. Once again, cheers.
90' + 4'
That's it. The referee blows for full time, and Juventus have dragged themselves back from the brink to draw 3-3. What. A. Game.
90' + 3'
OHHH. It was almost perfect for the old man. Quagliarella plays Del Piero through on goal, but the linesman's flag is up.
90' + 1'
Alessandro Del Piero
90' + 1'
Juve break, but Quagliarella's pass is poor and Cannavaro sweeps up the mess.
Del Piero comes on for his 700th career appearance. Well done Alex.
There's a huge roar as Napoli get a corner. The ball though, finds Campagnaro's head, but he can only give it straight into Buffon's arms.
Both sides play head-tennis for about thirty seconds, and eventually Chiellini comes to his senses and volleys the ball clear. Estigarriba somehow ends up with the ball on the left-hand side, but his cross is too deep for any of his team-mates, and the ball goes out.
Napoli have another free kick on the left-hand side (It's a wonder Lichtsteiner hasn't been sent off), but the ball can't beat the first man, and Juve clear.
That goal was properly amazing. Ricky Villa-esque.
JUUUUVVVEEE EQUALISE!!! Utterly fantastic stuff. Pepe goes on a run from the halfway line, takes the ball through and around four defenders and slots the ball under De Sanctis.
OHHH! Chiellini with a great chance. Inside the area, all alone, the defender tries to strike the ball first time instead of taking a touch, and De Sanctis easily saves.
Napoli have a free kick on the left-hand side. Lavezzi whips the ball in low, but, although it beats everyone in the box, it doesn't beat Buffon, and the veteran 'keeper holds on to the ball.
Wow. What a game this is. And Juve have an opportunity to equalise. A corner from Pirlo is poorly hit, but bobbles over Aronica's foot, but luckily for Napoli, Campagnaro can clear.
GOOOAAAALLLL JUVE. Can you believe it! A cross from the right by Vucinic is flicked on by Matri, and all alone at the far post, Estigarriba chests and the pokes the ball under De Sanctis for 3-2.
A cross from the right can only find Bonucci, but the Italian slips, and Pandev, on the half-turn capitalises and fires low into the bottom right-hand corner to make it 3-1.
GOOOOAAALLLL NAPOLI. From absolutely nowhere, Pandev has scored his second of the game!
Aronica plays a long, hopeful ball upfield, and Bonucci sweeps up expertly. The Italian defender then finds Pirlo, just outside the D of the centre circle. The former Milan man looks up, sees Pepe on a diagonal run, but the pass is overhit and De Sanctis picks up the loose ball.
Juve waste a great chance. Pepe steals the ball from under Cannavaro's nose, but the goalscorer from Saturday can only play a weak backheel towards Estigarriba, and the youngster doesn't quite get to the ball, having run past it.
These two are arguably the two best attacking sides in Serie A (Udinese fans may have something to say about that) and they certainly haven't disappointed here. Both teams are attacking with verve and intent. Wonderful stuff.
Yellow CardArturo Vidal
It's Napoli on their first attack of the half. Inler plays it wide to Lavezzi, and the Argentine uses his infamous pace to streak between Lichtsteiner and Bonucci. Once inside the box though, he perhaps makes the wrong decision, and tries to catch Buffon unawares at the front post, but the Italian 'keeper os more than equal to it.
Juve look like a different team in this half. I don't know what Conte said in the dressing room, but it's worked an absolute treat.
Vucinic forces De Sanctis into a great save. Taking on two Napoli defenders, Vucinic ends up on the left-hand side of the box, and strikes the ball towards the near post, but De Sanctis is equal to it, and parries away.
It's Juve again on the attack. This time Chiellini goes on a bombastic run down the left, and his cross is blocked by Campagnaro, and the ball goes out for a corner. The resulting corner however is played short, and the one-two between Pirlo and Vidal doesn't come off, and Napoli clear.
GOOOOAAALLLL JUVE. A beautiful ball by Vidal finds Matri unmarked inside the area, and the Italian clamly strokes the ball home first time. 2-1. Game on!
Napoli, kicking from left-to right, get us underway for the second half.
Del Piero is warming up here at the San Paolo. God I love Del Piero. Who wouldn't bet against him coming on and bagging a brace?
Napoli are 2-0 up, and they've certainly looked like the side more likely to score in that half. Having said that though, Juve are keeping most of the possession, but need to make more of it going forward in the next 45 if they're to maintain their unbeaten run.
And that's it. The referee blows for half-time, and Napoli go into the break 2-0 up.
Napoli, again, hit Juve on the break. But Inler's pass out wide to Zuniga is overhit, and the ball goes out of play. That was an opportunity missed by Napoli there. They were 4-on-3 with Juve defence.
Yellow CardStephan Lichtsteiner
Yellow CardMarek Hamsik
As Lichtsteiner goes down under a challenge from Hamsik, you have to say Napoli are looking good for their 2-0 lead. Could this be the end of Juve's unbeaten run?
GOOOOAAALLLL PANDEV. GOOOAAAALLL NAPOLI. Goran Pandev, Cavani's replacement, shakes of Chiellini inside the box, and fires low across goal and into the bottom left-hand corner.
Yellow CardAlessandro Matri
Vidal nicks the ball off Zuniga just as the Napoli is about to cross from the left-hand side. The Chilean then breaks, giving the ball to Matri on the halfway line. He plays it out to Estigarriba, and the youngster does a few fancy tricks, but can't get round Campagnaro, and the ball goes out.
Yellow CardLeonardo Bonucci
It's Vidal this time who's galloping upfield with the ball. Maggio though times his tackle from behind wonderfully, and gives the ball to Aronica in the centre circle.
Napoli again on the attack. But this time, Barzagli stops Lavezzi in his tracks, and clears the ball upfield.
This game is as end-to-end as you could wish for. This time, Estigarriba is just left of the 18 yard box, and he tries to beat De Sanctis at his near post with a sneaky shot. The 'keeper though, is having none of it, and saves easily.
A long ball from Inler tries to find Zuniga, but the wide midfielder can't quite get to the ball and it goes out for a throw in.
Now would be a good time to mention: if you have any comments on tonight's game, @alexjmott is where to go to vent your spleen.
OOOHHH. Very Nearly two for Napoli. Lavezzi skips past the challenege of Lichtsteiner, squares the ball to Pandev in the box, and the former Inter man could only put it wide. All Napoli now.
It's Napoli again with the ball. This time, Maggio tries to play a delicate through ball to Hamsik, but the ball is overrun and it goes out for a goal kick.
GOOOOOAAALLLLLL NAPOLI!!!! A header from the Slovakian, and he makes amends for his missed penalty!
It was a free kick played deep, and the header back across found Hamsik, who only had to header in, unmarked, from 4 yards. 1-0.
Pandev puts in a delicious ball from the right, but the ball is just over Hamsik, and Pirlo clears.
Another foul, this time on Lichtsteiner, gives Juve a free kick out wide on the right-hand flank. HIs ball though, is controlled by Vucinic's hand, and Napoli have the ball back.
Yellow CardChristian Maggio
Oh dear!! Another late challenege, this time by Maggio. This game is getting very nasty!
Yellow CardGoran Pandev
Missed PenaltyMarek Hamsik
Napoli quickly regain possession, and a late challenge from Chiellini looks to be a free kick, but the referee gives Pandev a yellow for simulation
Hamsik steps up again... AND BLAZES IT WELL OVER THE BAR!! Unbelievable!
HAMSIK SCORES! BUT IT DOESN'T COUNT. THE REFEREE WANTS IT RETAKEN!
PENALTY! PENALTY FOR NAPOLI! Andrea Pirlo makes a silly silly challenge on Ezequiel Lavezzi.
Maggio goes down the right now, and Napoli win a throw-in. They're lacking that bit of dynamism at the moment though.
Vucinic is brought down 25 yards from goal, and Juve have a free-kick. Pirlo floats it across goal, but Maggio sees it out for a corner.
Lichtsteiner reaches the byeline, but the ball had just too much on it for him to make anything for Juve. The visitors are taking the early initiative here.
OOHHHHHH VUCINIC!! He was in a great position there. The Montenegrin found himself free inside the area, but failed to trouble De Sanctis with a shot across the face of goal.
Vidal has the first shot of note for Juve, but it is blocked by a Napoli defender.
It's Napoli who are making much of the early running, but Chiellini closes them out as they threaten down the right.
Here goes then... what a big match to start off the midweek.
And the teams are arriving on to the pitch. The atmosphere here at the San Paolo is electric.
And although Juventus are currently the team to beat in Italy at the moment, having gone unbeaten in their previous 11 matches this season, recent history suggests Napoli have more than a decent chance tonight. Walter Mazzarri's side have beaten Juve three in the last four occassions.
Those of you who follow calcio will remember the corresponding fixture last season between these two sides: a 3-0 win for Napoli, with Cavani grabbing a sublime hat-trick. It really was the game that proved to the Neopolitans that they could not just match, but positively thrash, the big boys, and go on to claim a Champions League place.
For Juve, the only change to the side that beat Lazio last Saturday is Estigarriba coming in to replace the suspended Marchisio.
Clearly, the main team news as fas as Napoli are concerned is the absence of Edison Cavani. The Uruguyan picked up a tibia injury in the last league game against Atalanta, and thus unavailable for tonight's clash with Juventus. The sight of Goran Pandev as his replacement probably doesn't fill Napoli fans with a lot of confidence either.
Juventus: (4-2-4) Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini; Vidal, Pirlo; Pepe, Matri, Vucinic, Estigarriba.
Kick off is in just over 20 minutes, but the line-ups have already been announced. Napoli: (3-4-1-2) De Sanctis; Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Aronica; Maggio, Gargano, Inler, Zuniga; Hamsik; Lavezzi, Pandev.
Evening everyone, and welcome to the San Paolo for Goal.com's live, play-by-play coverage of Napoli v Juventus. I'm Alex Mott and I'll be your commentator for tonight's clash. As always, if Twitter's your thing, do contact me @alexjmott for all your comments/predictions/musing/outbursts.
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