Sports Mole's minute-by-minute commentary of the clash between Serie A heavyweights Napoli and Inter Milan, which featured a hat-trick from Ednson Cavani.
By Liam Power, Reporter Filed: Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 19:15 UK
Last Updated: Monday, May 6, 2013 at 04:51 UK
Napoli went into tonight's Serie A clash with Inter Milan knowing that a victory would cement second spot and an automatic place in next season's Champions League.
Inter arrived in Naples without a win from four matches and fell behind after five minutes thanks to a quick strike from Edinson Cavani.
The visitors equalised from the penalty spot through Ricky Alvarez, but Napoli swiftly regained the lead as Cavani converted a spot kick of their own.
Cavani completed his hat-trick early in the second half to surpass 100 goals for Napoli and earn his side three important points.
Look back at a masterful display from Walter Mazzarri's side with Sports Mole's minute-by-minute commentary below.
7.17pmEvening Calcio fans. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for live coverage of second against eighth in Serie A as Napoli and Inter Milan collide at the San Paolo. Napoli are looking to secure second place and an automatic Champions League place, while Inter's Europa League hopes hang by a thread.
7.19pmIt may not be enough to win the title but Napoli have finished the season in superb form. Walter Mazzarri's have won five of their last six to hold off AC Milan's late challenge and can open up a seven-point gap in second with victory tonight.
7.21pmInter on the other hand have endured a miserable few months, with a depleted squad decimated by injury. Andrea Stramaccioni's side have just one victory from their last four, with no fewer than 14 players on the treatment table.
7.25pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS! The starting XI's are in from Naples and unsurprisingly Edinson Cavani is back in the side for the hosts after completing a one-match suspension. Valon Behrami also starts for Napoli, while Inter are without a single recognised forward. A full look at both sides will follow in just a few moments.
7.31pmWith Cavani back to lead the line Napoli are at close to full strength, a situation Inter coach Stramaccioni can only dream of. Goran Pandev also starts in attack against his former club, with Lorenzo Insigne dropping out of the starting XI.
7.33pmBehrami also returns from suspension in central midfield, partnering the in-form duo Blerim Dzemaili and Marek Hamsik. Napoli's one big omission is defender Hugo Campagnaro, with Miguel Angel Britos coming in alongside Alessandro Gamberini and Paolo Cannavaro.
7.35pmInter have been forced to improvise in attack, with their last remaining striker Tommaso Rocchi the latest to suffer a knock. Ricky Alvarez has been pushed further forward to lead the line in an unfamiliar role, with Fredy Guarin supporting in an advanced position.
7.37pmThe visitors do have defensive linchpin Andrea Ranocchia fit despite a persistent knee injury, with Christian Chivu helping to form a relatively experienced backline. Esteban Cambiasso is back in the squad but has to settle for a place on the bench.
7.40pmPREDICTION! With Inter down to the bare bones my guess of a comfortable Napoli will hardly blow anyone away. Inter look paper thin in central midfield and have fewer options in the final third, so expect Mazzarri's men to take full advantage. Cavani has looked hungry in recent weeks so I fancy him and Dzemaili to net in a 3-0 win for the hosts.
7.42pmNapoli have scored 17 goals in their last six matches, with players like Dzemaili, Pandev and Insigne stepping up to take the pressure off Cavani in attack. Dzemaili in particular has found form it the last two months, enhancing his growing reputation with five goals in as many league games.
7.44pmAll the pressure is on a patched-up Inter tonight, with Stramaccioni's position now really coming under the microscope. His side are five points off a Europa League place with just four matches left to play, so anything but a win tonight leaves them struggling to finish anywhere but eighth.
7.46pmAn absolutely breathtaking atmosphere greets the two sides, with the Napoli faithful greeting their side with a cauldron of noise. A reminder that the hosts need just six points from their final four games to secure second place, which will be the Azzurri's best finish for 23 years.
2 minInter get us underway and stride forward as Chivu finds Alvarez, but Jonathan quickly loses possession to Cavani out wide. The Napoli talisman starts the night on 98 goals for Mazzarri's side, so a brace tonight will produce a special landmark for the Uruguayan marksman.
6 minCavani wastes no time in putting the home side ahead with their first attack of the match. Pandev's clever pass split Inter's central defence, with Cavani timing his run to perfection before curling home from close range. What a start for the home side, who are absolutely flying as Cavani gets goal number 99 in Azzurri colours.
8 minCHANCE! Inter almost produce an immediate response as Guarin lines up a free kick from at least 30 yards out. His powerful shot is parried back into the penalty area by De Sanctis, but Juan can only hammer over the crossbar under pressure from close range. A frantic start here at the San Paolo with Napoli edging ahead!
10 minHamsik and Zuniga exchange a brilliant pair of passes down the left wing, with Dzemaili eventually arriving to support and send a dangerous cross towards the far post. Maggio has made a late run into the penalty area but is just held by an important late clearance from Juan. Inter look all at sea defensively in the early stages and need to regain their composure quickly.
12 minGuarin tries his luck from inside his own half with an outrageously speculative effort that never looks capable of troubling De Sanctis. Napoli are quick to break at the other end as Hamsik wins a corner kick on the far side, but Dzemaili's header is comfortably saved by Handanovic.
14 minSAVE! Pereira roams forward from left-back and does well to turn and shoot just outside the penalty area. His low strike has pace and power but is turned round the post by a late dive from De Sanctis.
16 minNapoli want a free kick as Maggio tussles with Pereira, but the referee is unmoved despite fierce home protests. Guarin then quickly follows up with a rash lunge on Behrami as the visitors struggle to cope with an intense pace set on the break by Napoli.
18 minPandev goes on a mazy dribble down the right wing to set up another Napoli break, with the forward beating two players before crossing into the penalty area. Inter clear at the near post, but Cavani recycles possession quickly before bending a right-footed curler well wide of the far post.
20 minBehrami puts in a nasty challenge with studs showing on Kuzmanović and is lucky to escape without a caution. Inter hoist the following free kick into the penalty area but Guarin's looping header is easily caught at the far post by De Sanctis.
22 minGuarin races onto a long pass and cuts inside Cannavaro, but his shot is tame and caught cleanly once more by De Sanctis. At the other end Cavani keeps an overhit cross by Maggio in play and delivers a superb cross of his own into the penalty area. Hamsik is at full stretch in the six-yard box but fails to make contact.
24 minPENALTY TO INTER! The visitors break away and win a spot kick against the run of play as Alvarez is bundled over in the box. Can they get back on level terms as Alvarez dusts himself down to take the penalty?
28 minAlvarez hits his penalty low and hard and despite a strong hand behind the ball from De Sanctis the keeper is just beaten as Inter level. The Napoli stopper had plenty of time to watch that spot kick and is clearly annoyed not to keep that effort out. Regardless Inter have equalised and after a frantic start finally have foothold in the match, albeit definitely against the run of play.
30 minNapoli almost produce an instant response as Dzemaili produces a trademark rasping drive from distance. His effort is parried by Handanovic, with Behrami unable to take advantage on the rebound as the offside flag goes up.
32 minPandev keeps the pressure on as wins a physical battle with Chivu before firing towards goal from a tight angle. Handanovic is once again well placed to save at his near post, with a short delay caused in the aftermath as Chivu's headgear comes flying off.
34 minPENALTY TO NAPOLI! This time Napoli have been awarded a spot kick as Jonathan nudges Zuniga from behind. There was minimal contact but challenge was clumsy and gives the hosts a golden opportunity to level.
38 minCavani shruggs off his recent penalty woes to slot a confident spot kick into the bottom corner. Stramaccioni is livid with the award, with Ranocchia also booked for his protests in the aftermath. That goal was the Uruguayan's 100th in total for Napoli, what a special moment for the Uruguayan forward!
40 minBritos loses possession for Napoli in his own half with a heavy touch and then takes out Kuzmanovic on the follow-through. Inter use the ball to find Guarin in the penalty area, but his low drive from a tight angle is always going well wide of the far post. Napoli need to take more care in possession after already conceding a sloppy penalty this evening.
43 minHamsik clips a clever ball into the channel for Cavani, who chases down the lost cause to win a corner kick via the aid of a deflection off Chivu. Dzemaili's delivery from the corner is dangerous but just misses a packed penalty area as Inter escape, with appeals for another penalty against Juan quickly turned away.
45 min+1The home side charge forward again as Hamsik works some space just outside the penalty area, but his low effort is saved as Handanovic shows his class once more to palm clear.
8.36pmWell that was an intense first period at the San Paolo, with Napoli just able to show their superior form to earn a narrow 2-1 advantage. A penalty at either end has seen Alvarez and Cavani make no mistake from the spot, but the Uruguayan's 100th of a stellar Napoli career has made all the difference.
8.38pmInter have given a good account of themselves away from home, with Alvarez and Guarin carrying a surprisingly potent threat for a makeshift attack. However all their hard work has been undone by sloppy defending, with Stramaccioni's side particularly vulnerable to a quick change of pace on the break through Cavani, Hamsik and Pandev.
8.40pmNapoli need to show more composure in defence, with Britos in particular giving away possession on more than one occasion. Dzemaili has once again been a stand-out performer for the home side, continuing his recent emergence as key player for Mazzarri's side.
8.43pmZuniga has also been involved heavily at the first half, conceding a penalty before winning one of his own at the other end. The Colombian definitely showed naivety to bring down Alvarez in his own box, but redeemed himself to win a cheap spot kick at the expense of Inter full-back Jonathan.
8.46pmThe pressure is definitely on Inter to come out and chase the game after the break, with a positive result imperative to keep their fading European hopes alive. Any commitment to attack in numbers will definitely play to Napoli's strengths, with the Azzurri arguably the most potent counter-attacking side in Italy!
8.49pmBoth sides are back out at the San Paolo, with Cambiasso just about the only experienced Inter player available to Stramaccioni from the bench. A reminder that a win for Napoli will help them move seven points clear of AC Milan in the race for an automatic Champions League place.
46 minSUBSTITUTION: Inter have indeed decided to bring on Cambiasso at the break, in place of youngster Benassi who was largely anonymous in the first period.
48 minAlmost immediately in the second half we have a break in play as Maggio goes down with a head injury after an aerial tussle with Pereira. The Italian international looks dazed as he receives treatment, but should be alright to continue.
51 minSHOT! Napoli settle into a period of possession as Maggio rejoins play following treatment. Hamsik darts inside and picks out Pandev with a clever pass, with the forward testing Handanovic with low drive towards the bottom corner. The Inter keeper adjusts quickly to catch with relative ease and keep the strike out.
53 minMore precise passing in the final third sees Zuniga set Hamsik free just inside the penalty area. The playmaker has time to make a decision but sees a curling strike blocked by Ranocchia as Inter start the second half on the defensive.
55 minInter ease the constant flow of pressure with a break as Ranocchia marches forward before having a low shot deflected wide for a corner kick. A curling cross nearly catches Napoli cold, with Ranocchia again involved as he heads wide from a central position.
57 minThe visitors win another corner kick as Dzemaili closes down Cambiasso, but this time Napoli are switched on and clear with ease at the near post as Cavani smashes upfield. A shocking pass from Juan then has Inter in trouble as Cavani strides into the final third, but Chivu reacts quickly to stop the forward with an important block tackle.
60 minSHOT! Inter have settled since the break, perhaps down to Cambiasso's influence in central midfield. His clever pass sets Alvarez free in the penalty area, but from a tight angle his low drive is stopped by a fine save at full stretch from De Sanctis.
62 minGamberini receives treatment on the touchline for what looks like cramp and may need to be replaced as he trudges back out to continue. Napoli definitely need a lift in wide areas after a noticeable drop in tempo since half-time. Inter continue to press as Kuzmanovic switches the play, but Guarin's attempt to turn is shut down by Dzemaili.
64 minSUBSTITUTION: Gamberini is indeed replaced for Napoli, with loanee Rolando brought on to take his place in defence. Just before that change Juan was booked for a late lunge on Pandev, with Ranocchia perhaps fortunate not to concede a foul soon after for barging into the back of Cavani.
67 minPandev goes down again under a challenge from Ranocchia but this time nothing is given. Napoli quickly recycle possession and cross into the penalty area, but Ranocchia has recovered to smash clear for a throw in.
69 minSUBSTITUTION: Mazzarri makes his second change in an attempt to inject some pace into proceedings, with Armero on for Dzemaili. Meanwhile Cavani somehow fails to record his third goal of the night as he turns a pinpoint Pandev cross wide from close range.
71 minJuan hoists a hopeful ball forward towards Kuzmanovic, but the midfielder has frustratingly drifted into an offside position. Inter are making a fight of the closing stages but desperately lack a focal point in attack.
74 minNapoli take the sting out of Inter's play with a spell of posession down the right flank, bur the visitors are quick to regroup as Guarin wins a free kick around 20 yards from goal after a physical challenge from Behrami.
76 minGuarin takes a free kick short from Jonathan, which is headed clear by Cavani. With Napoli breaking Ranocchi lunges in on Armero and receives a yellow card for his rash, poorly-timed lunge. Despite appearing to be shown a booking earlier for dissent the defender remains on the pitch.
80 minWith the game tense and tight Cavani has once again made the difference. Pandev breaks free out wide and sends a clever chip towards the far post. His late pass is read by Cavani, who easily beats Juan to slide home past Handanovic from close range.
82 minCavani threatens a fourth as he peels off Juan to meet a pass from Hamsik before flashing a powerful drive wide from 20 yards. The Uruguayan has been at his clinical, formidable best tonight to reach the milestone of 35 goals in his fourth hat-trick of the campaign.
85 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Inter make a pair of late changes as Ranocchia and Kuzmanovic make way for youngsters Pasa and Schelotto. Meanwhile Napoli swap tireless forward Pandev for Insigne in the closing stages for fresh legs in the final third.
87 minNapoli have switched to a 4-4-2 for the final few minutes, with Insigne playing next to Cavani while Hamsik drops deeper into central midfield to protect the lead. Also to clear up any confusion over Ranocchia's phantom booking it seems Jonathan was the player booked for dissent early in the first half and not the towering central defender.
89 minA lovely first touch from Insigne sets Napoli on the way to another incisive counter, but his through ball just carries too much weight to pick out Cavani's late run at the far post. Inter have ran out of steam since the third goal and look well beaten despite a spirited effort.
90 min+1YELLOW CARD! Armero and Zuniga help the home side run down the clock with a pacy exchange towards the far corner. Inter launch a long ball forward as Alvarez is cynically brought down by Behrami, who picks up his 17th booking of the campaign for a late challenge just beyond the halfway line.
9.42pmA simply superb performance from Cavani has confirmed Napoli's place in at least the top three and next season's Champions League. A clinical hat-trick from the Uruguayan talisman means that Mazzarri's men need just three more points to confirm second spot after a largely consistent campaign.
9.44pmInter showed spirit but ultimately came away from Naples with nothing to show for their efforts. Stramaccioni's side now languish in eight place and are a full five points off European qualification with just three games left to play.
9.46pmThat just about does it for Sports Mole's live commentary from Serie A this weekend. Thanks for joining us and be sure to keep in touch for comprehensive coverage of football across the continent. Goodnight!