Napoli boosted their chances of
qualifying for their second successive Champions League campaign
with a comfortable 2-0 win over travel-shy Palermo on Tuesday.
Walter Mazzarri's side needed only 35 minutes to effectively
wrap up the match against a team with one of the worst Serie A
away records as Edinson Cavani, with a penalty, and Marek Hamsik
Napoli, in third place which would earn them a place in the
Champions League qualifying round, have 58 points, three more
than Udinese, Inter Milan and Lazio who all play on Wednesday.
They have a fairly straightforward final two games against
mid-table pair Bologna and Siena while Inter visit Lazio on the
last day of the season and also face neighbours AC Milan.
AS Roma's hopes of Champions League football next season
suffered another blow when they were held to a goalless draw on
a rain-sodden pitch at Chievo in Tuesday's other game.
Leaders Juventus (77 points), who host Lecce on Wednesday,
and second-placed AC Milan (74), at home to Atalanta the same
night, have already made sure of Italy's two direct places in
the Champions League group stage.
With only one away win all season, Palermo appeared to be
easy prey for Napoli although they made a promising start as
Josep Ilicic and Abel Hernandez forced Morgan De Sanctis to make
good saves in the same move.
After Gokhan Inler hit the bar for Napoli, the hosts went
ahead with a controversial penalty awarded for handball by Milan
Milanovic which Palermo angrily protested was accidental.
Uruguay forward Cavani converted from the spot in the 16th
minute for his 23rd Serie A goal of the season.
Goran Pandev cleverly set up Napoli's second in the 35th
when, with his back to goal, he managed to hook the ball over
the defence and Hamsek rolled the ball past Emiliano Viviano.
Roma have taken only two points from their last four games
and their chances of finishing third and securing a place in the
qualifying stage of Europe's elite competition have nose-dived.
The draw left them seventh with 52 points.
The players were forced to splash through 90 minutes of
misery as driving rain left huge pools of water on the pitch.
One of the best chances fell to Chievo striker Sergio
Pellissier near the end after the Roma defence failed to clear
the ball, but he fired over from near the penalty spot.
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