Mazzarri’s team break their Stadio Barbara hoodoo to win 3-1 with goals from all three strikers. Miccoli reduced the arrears near the end after a fantastic goal by Cavani was applauded by his former fans.
DEBUTS — Bortolo Mutti, the Palermo coach, had to make do without the suspended Illic, as well as Zahavi, Hernandez and Pisano who were all injured. It was therefore the right moment to give Franco Vazquez, the Argentinian who had arrived in
just a few days previously, his debut. He is said to have characteristics similar to those of his compatriot Javier Pastore. Ahead of him were Miccoli and Budan, with Della Rocca in the role of playmaker. There were no surprises in Mazzarri’s team, with Pandev starting in attack in place of the injured Lavezzi, alongside Hamsik and Cavani. Sicily
Marek Hamsik scores
EARLY CHANCE — The first half was very lively. The game was played at a high tempo, almost as if the Christmas panettone was a distant memory. After only two minutes
had a great chance to celebrate the New Year straight away: Budan found himself one-on-one with De Sanctis but allowed the keeper to save his shot. It was an opportunity to create a different final outcome, but instead Palermo Napoli sorted themselves out at the back and began to make inroads up front. Cavani had three chances in seven minutes to score with his head: the first went just over; the second was tipped over by Benussi, and the third was a glaring miss from two yards out.
VAZQUEZ, WHAT A MISS —
Napoli were running the game for the most part. Gargano was everywhere and Maggio was a constant threat on the right, supported by the runs of Campagnaro. Cavani held the ball up well and directed the forward play together with Hamsik and Pandev. The home side had to make do with sporadic attempts to counter attack. Vazquez was amongst the liveliest players on show and he wasn’t afraid to put his left foot to good use and try the odd trick. He was given a rough ride by Napoli but still managed to create a good opportunity for Miccoli, but his shot went wide. The Argentinian spoiled his early work at the end of the half by putting an attempted chip over the bar when through on goal with just De Sanctis to beat.
PANDEV SCORES — In the 35th minute a lightning move by
Napoli led to the opening goal. From the midfield, Cavani found Gargano with a deep ball into space. Gargano took the ball wide and crossed into the middle for Pandev to control the ball with his right, hold off Munoz and strike it in with his left foot. The Macedonian could have had another soon after but his effort went just past the top corner of the goal. The first half ended with a header into the Napoli goal by Migliaccio from a Miccoli free-kick, but it was rightly disallowed for offside.
GAME OVER — At the interval Mutti changed Vazquez, who is still short of match fitness, and Della Rocca, for Alvarez and Acquah. They didn’t make much difference.
Napoli started the second half at full pelt and within a quarter of an hour they’d made the game safe. The goal of the night came on 54 minutes when Cavani curled a right foot shot inside the far post to draw applause from even his former fans in the home support. Pandev went on to hit the woodwork before Hamsik claimed the third goal after being put through by Inler. The Slovakian took the ball around Benussi before scoring from an acute angle to put the game beyond ’s reach. Miccoli scored a consolation goal with a good header right at the end. Palermo