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It may not have been the easiest victory for Napoli, but the 2-1 win over Udinese keeps them level with Juventus at the top of the Serie A table.
It's like Napoli and Juventus just can't help themselves. Whatever one side does, the other must emulate. Juventus down Genoa 1-3? Ok, the partenopei will beat Parma by the same. Napoli draw 0-0 with Catania? Two days later, Juve do the same against Fiorentina. This afternoon, the Old Lady defeated Siena 2-1, with the Siena goal in the middle. Napoli? Exact same thing, except against Udinese.
The match at the San Paolo certainly wasn't an easy one for the home side, not with Zeljko Brkic between the sticks and Antonio Di Natale returning to the starting lineup. Toto did his best to score before ten minutes were up, but the forward's shot went over Morgan De Sanctis's goal.
On the other end, Brkic had to beat away a shot by Marek Hamsik, while Goran Pandev saved him the trouble, putting his shot wide. After thirty minutes, however, the partenopei broke through, in a move reminiscent of the Holy Trinity of the last two seasons. It was Christian Maggio taking part this time, however, picking up Edinson Cavani's pretty little backheel before sending the ball through to Hamsik, who merely tapped it into the back of the net.
Udinese, determined to show they still deserve to challenge for a European position, equalized in the 43rd minute. After Pandev wasted yet another chance, the zebrette pounced. On the counter, Maicosuel slid the ball over to Giampiero Pinzi, whose shot De Sanctis could do nothing about.
What Napoli could do, however, was take the lead once again, after just a few minutes. The third time was a charm for Pandev, who outwitted Brkic and his deference with a sneaky little turn, slotting the ball in at the near post.
The visitors pressured Napoli throughout the second half, even substituting Pinzi for striker Mathias Ranegie. But Maicosuel's appeal for a penalty only earned him a yellow for diving, while Marco Faraoni's stoppage-time shot went just barely wide.