Udinese vs. Napoli, Final Score 0-0: Juventus the real winners after goalless stalemate

Dino Panato

With Udinese holding Napoli to a goalless draw at the Friuli on Monday evening, Juventus' lead at the top of the table is a healthy six points.

Despite having more possession, Napoli struggled against the regimented Udinese defence, and, whilst still second in the table, Juve's six point advantage means Napoli's hopes of pushing the Old Lady to the wire are fading fast. With the draw, Udinese stay ninth.

Udinese had the first opportunity in a half without many great chances. Giandomenico Mesto was caught in possession in his own penalty area by Givanni Pasqual, though the Udinese wing-back could only shoot wide of Morgan De Sanctis' near post.

A minute later and the zebrette were given an early scare, after Mesto atoned for his earlier error with a terrific whipped cross from the right. Edinson Cavani made an excellent run between the Udinese centre-backs, though his outstretched leg wasn't long enough to test Daniele Padelli.

Udinese played in their usual compact fashion when defending, while Napoli were much more forthcoming in their pressing. The partenopei saw more possession, but struggled to break through the determined zebrette defensive barricades after Cavani's chance in the first five minutes.

As per usual, the ageless Antonio Di Natale was almost solely responsible for Udinese's attempts on goal, and he created a half-chance after receiving a long ball in the Napoli box, though he fired over on the turn, pressured by Miguel Britos.

It was inside the final ten minutes of the half before either goalkeeper actually had a proper save to make. Padelli had largely enjoyed watching a series of shots fly over his bar, though this time, he made a great diving stop. Set free down the left against his former club, Pablo Armero hit a looping cross for Marek Hamšík, whose glancing header was well stopped.

Di Natale had the last chance of the half on the counter, though he fired over the bar too, as the cameras cut to Walter Mazzarri looking even more depressed than usual. Just over five minutes after the restart, and he must have been nigh-on suicidal, as the best chance of the match fell to Udinese.

A blocked Di Natale shot fell to the onrushing Argentine Roberto Pereyra in front of goal, though, unmarked, he could only sky his volley over the bar. Napoli had a similar opportunity of their own a couple of minutes later, when Lorenzo Insigne crossed in for Hamšík, though he volleyed wide inside the box.

The second half continued to be much more open than the first, and with little over 20 minutes to go there was an incredible miss by Edinson Cavani. After Hamšík played a terrific pass for Armero on the goal line, the Colombian pulled it across for Cavani, who somehow didn't get a clean contact on the ball, skewing the shot wide from three yards. A collectors item that Napoli fans didn't want to keep.

The visitors were practically camped in the Udinese half as the game drew towards its climax, though they couldn't find that all-important breakthrough.

Napoli (3-4-2-1): Morgan De Sanctis; Miguel Britos, Paolo Cannavaro (Blerim Džemaili 85), Hugo Campagnaro; Pablo Armero, Gökhan Inler (Goran Pandev 61), Valon Behrami, Giandomenico Mesto (Juan Camilo Zúñiga 89); Lorenzo Insigne, Marek Hamšík; Edinson Cavani

Udinese (3-5-1-1): Daniele Padelli; Maurizio Domizzi, Danilo, Mehdi Benatia (Thomas Hertaux 28); Giovanni Pasquale, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Allan, Roberto Pereyra, Dušan Basta; Luis Muriel; Antonio Di Natale (Maicosuel 78)

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