Serie A - Napoli down 10-man Cesena

Sat, 10 Sep 21:45:00 2011

Napoli got their delayed Serie A campaign off to a winning start with a convincing win against 10-man Cesena.

Edinson Cavani - 0

Ezequiel Lavezzi struck after three minutes, but Cesena stuck to their task and were rewarded when Roberto Guana finished a move he started by sliding the ball past Morgan de Sanctis on 24 minutes.

The complexion of the game changed 10 minutes into the second period when Cesena's Yohan Benalouane received a second yellow for handling Hugo Campagnaro's pass.

Campagnaro took full advantage midway through the half when he caught Marco Rossi napping to score from close range before Azzurri sub Marek Hamsik put the game beyond doubt after blasting home from the edge of the box with three minutes remaining.

The Azzurri finished third in last season's campaign after a spirited challenge for the Serie A title and Walter Mazzari was looking to get the strike-delayed season off to a flying start.

It looked to be a difficult league baptism for new Cesena boss Marco Giampoalo, who left Catania in June, but it was his Cesena side who came within a whisker of opening the scoring in the second minute.

The unmarked Gianluca Coamotto somehow headed wide from a corner with the goal at his mercy and the Seahorses were made to pay immediately.

The Cesena defence switched off from Campagnaro's long throw and Lavezzi drilled the ball home at the near post.

Napoli almost added a second on 20 minutes when a delightful floated cross found the onrushing Christian Maggio, who somehow side-footed wide from six yards.

Comotto had a chance to make amends for his early miss three minutes later only to head wide, but Cesena were level on 25.

Guana started the move in his own half and after running almost the length of the pitch, slid home Eder's precise cross for a deserved equaliser.

With both sides playing fast football on the artificial surface, Lavezzi eluded two challenges before being played in by Mario Santana only to stab the ball wide as he tried to dig it out from under his feet.

Edinson Cavani was a thorn in Cesena's side last season and stung Ravaglia's hands before Mutu fired straight at De Sanctis as the game swung from end to end.

Cesena, however, finished the strongest.

Adrian Mutu beat the offside trap but failed to beat De Sanctis and the keeper proved equal to Candreva's volley in the last minute to keep the scores level at the break.

Napoli edged the early exchanges after the restart without testing Ravaglia, but the game changed on 55 minutes.

Benalouane handled Campagnaro's stabbed through-ball to pick up a second yellow and reduce Cesena to 10 men.

Walter Mazzari immediately threw on Hamsik and his presence further galvanised Napoli as both Paolo Cannavaro and ECavani wasted good chances to test Ravglia.

Cannavaro then saw his effort headed off the line by Candreva, but the Azzurri broke through immediately

A clever short corner let Hamsik loft the ball to the far post and Campagnaro beat the dozing Rossi to put Napoli ahead.

Hamsik was denied a second by a smart save from Ravaglia and the keeper did well to thwart Cavani as Napoli turned the screw.

New signing Federico Fernandes almost made an instant impact on 85 when he drove past the Cesena defence to play in Goran Pandev, and only the Macedonian will know how he hit the bar from eight yards with the goal gaping.

The Azzuri, though, had to wait two more minutes before putting the game out of Cesena's reach.

The ball was swung in for Pandev and as the ball was hooked away by a white shirt, Hamsik let fly with rifling shot that left Ravaglia helpless to claim all three points.

There was still time for Mutu to whistle a free-kick past the Napoli upright in stoppage time, but Napoli were good value for the win and will now face high-flying Manchester City in their opening Champions League match on Wednesday.

Ian Hare / Eurosport

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