Cavani's 86th minute winner completes the turnaround for the adventurous Azzurri.
Antonio Cassano’s controversial second half penalty seemed set to secure the three points but the Vesuviani fought back to claim the spoils thanks to Marek Hamsik and Edinson Cavani.
The Partenopei were the more adventurous of the two sides early on, and forced many a half chance. Ezequiel Lavezzi and Hamsik were, as ever, at the heart of most of their good play. The Argentine lost Ziegler early on and was denied only by a great covering run by Daniele Gastaldello. Moments later he was brought to a halt by a late challenge by Stefano Lucchini. Hamsik twice got to the bye-line after good play by Andrea Dossena, but on neither occasion could a team-mate convert.
At the other end, Sampdoria’s main threat came from Antonio Cassano. First he teed up Stefano Guberti on the edge of the area, but the wide man slid the ball wide. Then he was clumsily challenged by Paolo Cannavaro when turning to volley at goal, but the referee decided not to award a penalty.
As Napoli continued to create opportunities, Blucerchiati keeper Gianluca Curci dived at full stretch to keep out Lavezzi, little knowing that the diminutive forward was in an offside position. Cavani should then have tested Curci from Hugo Campagnaro’s great run and cutback but couldn’t make sufficient contact. When Dossena sent in a stinging left foot drive on the stroke of half-time, Curci was again equal to the effort to keep Samp level.
Though the Azzurri were again the more threatening side after the interval, Samp could easily have taken the lead when Guberti beautifully created an opportunity for himself to strike dangerously from 20 yards, but his effort came back off the bar. Moments later, Walter Gargano hit Curci’s goalframe with a delicious free-kick as the scoresheet stayed remarkably untouched.
That all changed when Cannavaro again laid hands on an opponent in the box, this time substitute Nicola Pozzi, and was penalised with a yellow card and a spot kick, which Antonio Cassano coolly slotted low past Morgan De Sanctis.
But the home side’s lead lasted only six minutes as Marek Hamsik latched onto Walter Gargano’s intelligent low free-kick to slot past Curci. And just three minutes later Lavezzi did superbly to get a cross in from the left and Edinson Cavani turned the ball in, just beating Lucchini to the ball at the near post to send the travelling support into delirium.
The victory means Napoli remain unbeaten and move to within two points of surprise leaders Cesena in seventh place in the embryonic table.