Serie A - Napoli secure Champions League spot

Sun, 15 May 21:40:00 2011

Napoli will return to the Champions League next term after earning the point they needed from a 1-1 draw with Internazionale in Serie A.

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Napoli finish third in Serie A while Leonardo's Inter are assured of second spot in the table ahead of next weekend's final round of matches.

Samuel Eto'o smacked home the opening goal for the visitors from distance on 17 minutes, but a mistake in the Inter defence enabled Juan Zuniga to pounce and stab home the equaliser a minute into stoppage time in the first half.

The second half was a non-event after an enjoyable first period with both teams content to sit back and settle for the draw.

Inter had the best chances to construct a two-goal lead at the break with Diego Milito firing wide minutes while Maicon rattled the post from outside of the Napoli box, but the home side were worthy of their point.

The Naples club, which went bankrupt in 2004 and had to be reformed in the lower leagues, will return to the European Cup next season for the first time since Diego Maradona helped them qualify by winning the 1990 Italian title.

Their San Paolo stadium was filled with blue smoke, Mazzarri burst into tears and club owner Aurelio De Laurentiis, a film producer who brought one on Italy's most fervently supported clubs back from the brink of extinction, was thrown in the air.

"Now we will create a squad able to compete in Europe, where you need experience to play against certain sides," De Laurentiis said after his side had secured third spot.

Mazzarri, linked in the meida with once mighty Juventus has a rocky relationship with the owner despite Napoli's huge achievement and has not guaranteed he will stay.

"It depends only on him," De Laurentiis added. "He has a two-year contract, otherwise it will be a soap opera. But if he asks me to leave, I'll say no."

Napoli's success has partly been down to the shrewd purchase of Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani from Palermo before the season.

The previously goal-shy forward has bagged 26 league goals this term.


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