Inter may have toppled Juventus yesterday, but Napoli failed to capitalize on such a gift, conceding in the final minute at home to Torino.
What a way for Napoli to drop points. After holding off a Torino onslaught throughout the second half, Salvatore Aronica executed possibly the worst back pass in the history of ever. Gianluca Sansone seized the opportunity, and the ball, easily evading Morgan De Sanctis to put the ball into an empty net. Ciao, scudetto.
The match started off brightly for the home side. Edinson Cavani, back after missing the past two matches, had a shot on goal in the first minute. Jean-François Gillet easily saved, but it seemed the attempt would set the tone of the game.
Sure enough, Napoli scored in the 7th minute -- from a throw-in. Marek Hamsik did well to control the ball, holding off the Torino defenders before slotting over to Cavani. El Matador needed just a touch to tap the ball into the net.
It took Torino a bit to recover, but by the 20th minute, they'd found their bearings enough to exert a bit of pressure on the partenopei. Ronaldo Bianchi sent a header straight to Morgan De Sanctis, but the move set off a series of corners and shots, requiring every Napoli player to get inside the area to fend off the storm.
By the thirtieth minute, Napoli looked content to kick the ball around, as though it would simply be too much effort to find a second goal. Oh, how they would rue such a decision. However, at the time it seemed rather understandable, as although Torino had chances, no one was able to finish them.
Walter Mazzarri must have given his side an earful during the break, as Napoli came back out looking as though they might want to score again. The granata, however, were up to this challenge, throwing themselves in the way of every shot.
Torino had a number of creative tricks up their sleeve. They tried the "ten corners equals a goal" method, but nothing could get through the Napoli defense. Alessio Cerci attempted the "fall over in the area" maneuver, but only earned a yellow when the referee noticed he'd tripped over his own feet. Torino's best attempt was the "get fancy with a set piece", but their short free kick was diverted by the referee to set Napoli free on the counter.
The home side missed a great chance to double their lead in the 85th minute. Lorenzo Insigne, on for Goran Pandev, executed a perfect dribbly run through the center before sending the ball on to Hamsik on the left. But Gillet was up to the challenge, coming out to force the Slovak to send his shot into the side netting.
In the 89th minute, Mazzarri was sent off, although for what is not clear. Mazzarri is well-known for engineering an ejection to lift his team, but usually such a trick doesn't help much when there's one minute left. Unfortunately, he had decided to remove Andrea Dossena in favor of Aronica before he left the pitch. Perhaps distracted by the removal of his special Mister, Aronica executed a backpass that will haunt the dreams of Napoli supporters. Torino, of course, were ecstatic at the gift, and at the point it provided.