Second place not ours yet, insists Mazzarri

6 May 2013 00:15

Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri has insisted that his team have not yet secured second place in Serie A, despite a 3-1 win over Inter.

Edinson Cavani stole the show on Sunday as he scored three times to inflict Inter’s 14th league defeat of the season, with Ricky Alvarez briefly restoring hope in the first half as he equalised from the penalty spot.

The win guarantees Napoli at least a third-placed finish this season and qualification to the UEFA Champions League but, although they are seven points clear of Milan in third, Mazzarri affirmed that his side still have work to do if they wish to end the season in second behind champions Juventus.

He told Sky Sport Italia: “We must get the next three points. Nothing is guaranteed.

“In the next match we will visit Bologna, and they have always been our nemesis. We have to think about finishing the championship the right way, because you can see that Milan are not giving up.”

Cavani echoed Mazzarri’s sentiments, insisting the Naples outfit would only rest once second was mathematically secured.

He said: “We will think about that after next Sunday. The next game can be the decisive one.”

With his hat-trick, the Uruguayan took his goals tally to 101 for Napoli, 14 short of Diego Maradona’s record, but he would not make any definitive response as to whether he will be around to overtake the Argentina legend next season.

“For me it is an important milestone,” he added. “I will try to get as close as possible in these games that remain, then we’ll see.

“I do not think (about a transfer). I’m focused on the present and on the match against Bologna that can give us the qualification to the Champions League (in second place).”

Ligue 1 Wrap: PSG take a step closer to the title

5 May 2013 23:49

A frustrated Paris Saint-Germain moved closer to the Ligue 1 title, despite being held to a 1-1 draw at home to Valenciennes.

PSG welcomed their mid-table opponents to the Parc des Princes expecting to repeat their 4-0 victory against the same team earlier this season, however Valenciennes were not going to play along and very nearly caused an upset.

Gael Danic opened the scoring for the visitors early in the first half after Nicolas Douchez, in goal for the suspended Salvatore Sirigu, could only parry Vincent Aboubakar’s 17th-minute strike. The hosts rallied but found visiting goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau in fine form as he kept out Javier Pastore and Maxwell.

With half-time approaching the game was turned on its head when PSG captain Thiago Silva was sent off for dissent, referee Alexandre Castro not hesitating in issuing the card to the Brazilian much to the amazement of everyone inside the stadium.

The league leaders regrouped and laid seige on Penneteau’s goal. Just as the visitors thought they might leave Paris with all three points, Alex popped up to head home an Ezequiel Lavezzi corner and grab his side a point.

A further point from PSG’s remaining three Ligue 1 games will see them crowned champions for the first time since 1994.

Lyon closed the gap to second-placed Marseille to four points with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Nancy thanks to two goals from Bafetimbi Gomis and one from Yoann Gourcuff.

Remi Garde’s side took their time to break the deadlock as a resolute Nancy defence kept them at bay, however three minutes after the break Gomis opened the scoring six yards out from goal. Gourcuff added a second with nine minutes to play after being found by Gueida Fofana on the edge of the penalty area, the 26-year-old controlled the ball and fired a right-footed shot beyond Damien Gregorini.

To seal the victory, Gomis added a third in the final moments, he took a pass from the impressive Gourcuff before slotting the ball into the back of the net for his 18th goal of the season.

Nice moved themselves above Saint Etienne into fourth position with three second half goals to beat Rennes at the Route de Lorient.

After an even first half the visitors opened the scoring in the 50th minute as Dario Cvitanich took advantage of a mistake from Rennes goalkeeper Benoit Costil. The keeper pushed away a Didier Digard free-kick to Luigi Bruins, his cross found Nemanja Pejcinovic and the defender headed the ball onto Cvitanich who applied the finish.

Five minutes later Chris Mavinga was sent off for a push on Cvitanich and Nice used their numerical advantage to punish their hosts further. After Alou Diarra handled the ball inside the area Cvitanich converted the resulting penalty and with six minutes to play, Eric Bautheac added a third to seal the points..

In the closing stages of the match, Pejcinovic was given a straight red card for pulling down Jonathan Pitroipa, but it was too late for Rennes to make any sort of comeback and Nice took all three points.

Serie A Wrap: Juventus cruise to title win

5 May 2013 23:40

Juventus won their 29th Italian league title after picking up a slender 1-0 win at home to Palermo on Sunday.

The game’s solitary goal came courtesy of an Arturo Vidal penalty in the second half after Mirko Vucinic was knocked to the floor by Massimo Donati, before Paul Pogba’s decision to spit at Salvatore Aronica in the last 10 minutes earned the young French star a straight red card.

Palermo slipped back into the relegation zone as that defeat was confounded by Genoa’s resounding 4-1 win at home to Pescara, a result which also confirmed the latter’s relegation to Serie B.

Marco Borriello scored a double for Davide Ballardini’s team, meaning that he has scored against each of this season’s 20 Serie A clubs at some point in his career.

Siena look doomed to join Pescara in Italy’s second tier next season as they suffered a 3-0 loss to Catania, with Gonzalo Bergessio scoring a hat-trick for the victors.

The defeat leaves Siena five points from safety, while Atalanta look set to avoid slipping into the bottom three despite losing 2-0 to Parma, who had Marco Parolo and Jonathan Biabiany to thank for their goals.

Towards the top of the table, Napoli secured UEFA Champions League football for next season as they comfortably won 3-1 against an Inter side decimated by injuries.

A Napoli win was threatened briefly in the first half when Ricky Alvarez converted a penalty, but Edinson Cavani had the final say as he scored three to take his tally for the club to 101 and keep Walter Mazzari’s side in second.

Despite trebles hit by both Cavani and Bergessio, the performance of the day was undoubtedly produced by Miroslav Klose as the German striker phenomenally scored five goals as Lazio hammered Bologna 6-0 in Rome.

Three of Klose’s efforts plus Hernanes’ ninth of the season came before half-time as Lazio move above Inter into seventh, keeping their European hopes alive.

Milan capitalised on Roma’s Saturday win over Fiorentina by beating Torino 1-0 at San Siro, as Mario Balotelli scored an 84th-minute winner, while Udinese’s 3-1 triumph against 15th placed Sampdoria sees them move into sixth.

Ligue 1: Paris Saint-Germain 1 Valenciennes 1

5 May 2013 23:07

A late Alex goal helped Paris Saint-Germain recover from the controversial dismissal of Thiago Silva’s to earn a 1-1 draw with Valenciennes.

PSG knew that a win would put them on the brink of winning the Ligue 1 title but they struggled against their well-organised mid-table opponents.

Against the run of play, Valenciennes took the lead through Gael Danic, the midfielder in the right place at the right time to fire home after Nicolas Douchez could only parry Vincent Aboubakar’s shot.

The major talking point in the game came just before half time when Silva was, to his dismay, sent off for dissent towards referee Alexandre Castro. PSG pushed for a way back into the game throughout the second half and with 10 minutes to play, Alex headed home the equaliser at the front post.

Carlo Ancelotti was forced into changes with Salvatore Sirigu, David Beckham and Marco Veratti suspended after red cards against Evian. Douchez and Clement Chantome started in their places, and there was also recalls for Gregory van der Wiel and Mamadou Sakho.

The visitors started brightly but the first chance of the game fell to the hosts as Zlatan Ibrahimovic controlled a long ball out of defence superbly on his chest. As Nicolas Penneteau came out, the Sweden international lifted the ball over his head but his attempted back-heel finish was off-target.

Javier Pastore fired a better chance just wide moments later before the deadlock was finally broken in the 17th minute.

Despite the hosts having the better openings, it was the visitors who took the lead through Danic. PSG backed off Aboubakar too much and the striker was able to to fire a low shot towards goal. Douchez parried the ball away but it landed at the feet of Danic who volleyed first time into the back of the net.

In the closing moments of the first half PSG’s task was made that little bit harder as their recent poor disciplined continued, although the red card issued to Silva was quite a controversial one.

The defender was given a straight red for dissent having disagreed with a decision made by referee Castro, but the decision shocked the Parc des Princes.

The hosts came back out after the break determined to put their title charge back on course but struggled to break through the visitors’ solid defensive line. Ibrahimovic and Lavezzi both had sights of goal but they were unable to get their shots through to test Penneteau.

Valenciennes could, and should, have extended their lead as they used their extra man advantage to stretch PSG. Danic had a chance to grab his second goal of the game but Douchez saved well, and three minutes later Colombian Carlos Sanchez dragged a fantastic opportunity well wide of goal.

The introduction of Kevin Gameiro sparked the hosts into life and chances began to appear, however an inspired performance from Penneteau looked like sending PSG to their third home defeat of the season.

However with 10 minutes to play the home side finally broke through as substitute Alex, who replaced Menez after Silva’s sending off, rose to meet a Lavezzi corner and powered his header past Penneteau at the front

post, leaving PSG requiring just a point to secure the title.

Galatasaray secure Super Lig title

5 May 2013 23:06

Galatasaray retained the Turkish Super Lig title with a 4-2 win against Sivasspor on Sunday.

The result means they are 10 points clear of rivals Fenerbahce, who lost 2-0 at Istanbul BB SK, with just three games remaining.

Fatih Terim’s side have now won 19 domestic league titles, making them the most successful team in the history of the competition.

“Fortunately this day has come,” said Terim.

“We are deserved champions. I send my love and respect to Galatasaray fans all around the world. They can now enjoy this success.

“Securing my sixth league title in nine years (over three spells) is no mean feat.”

Selcuk Inan hit a venomous free-kick in just the eighth minute to set them on their way to victory before a fierce finish from Burak Yilmaz doubled the advantage just after the re-start, before Selcuk got a second.

Burak added his second from Umut Bulut’s pass before Kadir Bekmezci and Cihan Oezkara grabbed consolation goals for the visitors.

The Turkish giants have performed admirably all season including a spirited 5-3 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.

They bolstered their squad in January with the signings of Inter’s Wesley Sneijder and former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, both of whom have won Champions League medals.