Dec 7, 2013 at 7.45pm UK at ​Stadio San Paolo
Napoli
3-3
Udinese
Pandev (38', 41'), Dzemaili (72')
Albiol (36'), Fernandez (48'), Pandev (52'), Dzemaili (75')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Fernandez (45' og.), Fernandes (70'), Basta (81')
Bruno (62'), Domizzi (89')

Live Commentary: Napoli 3-3 Udinese - as it happened

Napoli's forward Goran Pandev celebrates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match SSC Napoli vs Udinese at San Paolo Stadium in Naples on December 7, 2013
© Getty Images
Relive Sports Mole's text coverage of the Serie A clash between Napoli and Udinese.

Napoli missed the chance to move level on points with second-placed Roma this evening, drawing 3-3 with Udinese at the Stadio San Paolo.

The hosts took a two-goal lead when Goran Pandev scored twice in the space of three minutes at the end of the first half, finishing neatly from inside the box on both occasions.

There was still time in the opening period for Federico Fernandez to slice the ball into his own net to make it 2-1 going into the break.

Bruno Fernandes levelled the sides with 20 minutes left with a fine dipping drive, but Napoli were back ahead just two minutes later when Blerim Dzemaili tapped home a rebound.

Dusan Basta ensured that the spoils were shared in the 80th minute, however, poking home from close range after some poor marking at a corner.

You can read how the six-goal thriller unfolded with Sports Mole's live coverage below.


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7.15pmGood evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for tonight's Serie A encounter between high-flying Napoli and Udinese. Let's get straight to it!

7.17pmWe'll start by looking at the hosts tonight, and it has been a fairly successful season so far for Rafael Benitez's Napoli. However, after Roma's blistering start to the season and Inter's recent faultless form, they find themselves in third place, nine points behind the leaders.

7.19pmIt may be too early to suggest that defeat this evening could see them exit the title race, but anything other than maximum points would certainly play into the hands of Juventus and Roma. Napoli have some ground to catch up on those two, and games like this could be the perfect way to kickstart a good run of form.

7.21pmBenitez's side have had a bit of a wobble recently, losing three of their last four games in all competitions. Back-to-back league defeats against Juventus and Napoli saw them fall even further behind the top two, while they weren't incredibly convincing during their 4-2 win over Lazio on Monday.

7.23pmHowever, taking the exceptional runs of form that Juventus and Roma have had at times this season, Napoli must be fairly pleased with their progress. Only two teams have scored more goals than them in Serie A this season, Juventus and Inter Milan, and they looked well placed to qualify for next season's Champions League.

7.25pmThey have had no problems scoring, and at the other end things are quite impressive too. Only the top two have conceded fewer goals than Napoli so far this season, with Benitez's side being breached just 14 times in the league.

7.27pmThey may well have lost a sense of invincibility at home in their recent results, however. The defeat to Parma was their first at the Stadio San Paolo since mid-February this year, a run stretching back 16 matches. Even more remarkably, it was also their first home defeat since December 16 of last year, an unbeaten streak going back 17 games.

7.29pmUdinese, on the other hand, have not been able to string such an impressive run together recently. They went into the campaign with hopes of a European place but, with just 14 matches played, that target already looks to be beyond them. They sit 13th with 16 points from their 14 games, closer to the relegation zone than they are to the European places.

7.31pmTheir form has marginally improved recently, with a 1-0 win over Fiorentina being backed up by the narrowest of defeats to Juventus, who are sweeping all before them at the moment. Still, the inescapable fact for Francesco Guidolin's side is that they have lost three of their last four matches and five of their last seven.

7.33pmIt is clear to see where their problems lie, too. Only two teams, including bottom of the table Catania, have scored fewer goals than Udinese's 12 so far this season - a stat that will certainly not be helped by the absence of iconic striker Di Natale this evening through injury.

7.35pmTheir defence, on the other hand, is playing very well. They have the joint-best defensive record outside the top four, with their 16 goals conceded only being matched by seventh-placed Genoa in the bottom 16. It is simply at the other end where they must improve. They have failed to score in five of their last seven league matches, and there have been under 2.5 goals in eight of their last 10 Serie A encounters.

7.37pmTheir away form is a major problem too. The 2-1 win over Sassuolo a few weeks ago remains their solitary victory on their travels this season having lost their other six games. That means that just three of their 16 points this season have come away from home, far from the required tally for European challengers.

7.39pmNeedless to say, their poor away for and the poor goalscoring record combine to make pretty grim reading when they are looked at together. Udinese have managed just four goals in their seven away matches so far this season, and just two of those have come in the last five matches. They have failed to score in four of those last five away ties.

7.40pmPREDICTION: We're five minutes from kickoff in Naples, which means that it is time for a prediction! This won't be as easy a game for Napoli as it may seem at first glance, but Udinese poor away form coupled with Napoli's impressive home record - even accounting for that Parma defeat - points towards a home win today. The hosts are with Hamsik, which is a major blow, but with Di Natale I struggle to see where the goals will come from for Udinese. I'll go for 2-0 Napoli.

7.41pmNAPOLI STARTING XI: Rafael; Maggio, Fernandez, Albiol, Reveillere; Inler, Dzemaili; Insigne, Pandev, Callejón; Higuain

7.42pmUDINESE STARTING XI: Brkic; Heurtaux, Danilo, Domizzi; Basta, Allan, Lazzari, G. Silva; Pereyra, Fernandes; Nico Lopez

7.44pmThe players are out and ready to go in Naples. Could the hosts have one eye on the Champions League clash with Arsenal in midweek? Udinese will certainly be hoping so.

1 minKICKOFF: Udinese get us underway in Naples in a big match for both sides. If the visitors still harbour any hopes of reaching Europe, this is simply a must-win game, and the same could apply for Napoli and the title.

3 minBright start from Napoli as they look to get at the visitors early on, but Udinese have successfully rebuffed a couple of early attacks and are beginning to settle.

5 minUdinese get the first corner of the game, but Napoli successfully clear the danger. The ball is worked back out to the left wing for Udinese, but once again their cross is cleared and eventually the hosts win a free kick.

7 minReally good pressure from Udinese as they clear a Napoli corner and force the ball all the way back to the keeper. Not content with that, they close Rafael down and almost block his pass out of defence.

8 minNice football between Higuain and Pandev to slip the ball inside to Insigne. He tries to find space to shoot, but his effort from a tight angle is blocked behind for a corner.

12 minSAVE! Fine save from Rafael as he dives to his left to stop a dipping drive from range. He would have been disappointed had he not made that save, but he still had to be alert as the ball would dipping viciously.

14 minThis has been a fairly even opening quarter of an hour or so, with both teams yet to create a really good chance. Napoli are enjoying most of the ball, but Udinese are looking capable of creating opportunities when they go forward.

16 minThe counter attack has caused problems for Napoli at times so far, and they just have to be a little careful that Udinese don't catch them out as they have shown that they are a hard team to score against. Should the visitors take the lead, they would be likely to shut up shop.

20 minOFF THE LINE! A corner is played in deep towards Albiol, and he loops a header over the keeper, who is scrambling towards his back post. Allan is there to nod it out for another corner off the line, but I think it may have been going wide anyway. Better safe than sorry, though.

22 minUdinese have a free kick in a good position here after a handball was correctly awarded by the referee. It is a little far out, but just within shooting range...

23 min...In the end they don't shoot, instead clipping it cleverly into the box. Eventually Domizzi is able to get his head to the ball, but he can only steer his header straight at Rafael.

24 minSilva plays a good ball through behind the defence that Pereyra very nearly gets on the end of. It ends up running straight through to Rafael, but any sort of touch from the Udinese man would have set up a good chance for the visitors.

25 minSHOT! Insigne collects the ball and spins away from his man on the edge of the box before unleashing a powerful effort. It flashes a yard or so wide of the post with Brkic rooted to the spot and well beaten. Not far away from the opener there.

27 minGabriel Silva is giving Udinese a very good outlet on the left wing for their counter attacks. The latest one is defended well, but the Brazilian - arguably Udinese's most dangerous player in the absence of Di Natale - has found himself in quite a bit of space on a number of occasions already this evening.

28 minSAVE! That is a really good stop from Rafael, who changes direction quickly before getting down well to tip it wide. Lopez got a couple of lucky bounces to get in shooting position, and then is effort smacked off the face of Reveillere, forcing Rafael to make the quick adjustment.

30 minUdinese will be very happy with their performance in this opening half an hour. They have snuffed out the vast majority of Napoli's attacks and threatened on a couple of occasions themselves. Their belief that they could in this match will be growing by the minute.

32 minMany of the visitors' attacks have been on the break, but in the last five or so minutes they have started to enjoy prolonged possession inside the Napoli half. The hosts are struggling to stamp their authority on this match and, at the moment, you'd have to say that Udinese are on top.

34 minHiguain is struggling to get himself into this match, and it is also clear that Napoli are missing Hamsik at the moment. They don't seem to have enough creativity or direct running in the final third.

36 minYELLOW CARD! Raul Albiol picks up the first booking of the game for a clumsy challenge on Lopez, who looked like he was about to get away from the Spaniard.

38 minGOAL! Napoli 1-0 Udinese (Goran Pandev)

38 minNapoli have the opener! It isn't the most beautiful goal you will ever see, but it was a very good finish from the Macedonian. Fernandez headed a corner back into the danger zone and the striker took it down on his thigh before poking it past Brkic from close range.

40 minThat is a little harsh on Udinese, who have at least matched Napoli in this one so far. Can they respond before half time?

41 minGOAL! Napoli 2-0 Udinese (Goran Pandev)

41 minIt is a quickfire double for Napoli and Pandev! Higuain deserves a lot of credit for this one, showing good pace down the right to reach the byline before cutting it back to Pandev in the middle. The Macedonian produces another clinical finish, finding the bottom corner on the turn and giving the keeper no chance.

43 minPereyra show great pace to beat a man on the right flank but looks up to see an empty box. He has no choice but to go alone from an improbably angle, and the ball ends up trickling out for a throw after a poor effort.

45 minGOAL! Napoli 2-1 Udinese (Federico Fernandez og)

45 minIt's a nightmare for Fernandez as he slices the ball into his own net! It came from a corner as the ball was nodded into the six yard box. Rafael looked to have an easy save but Fernandez just got their first and his sliced clearance ended up in his own top corner. Udinese are back in this one!

45 minHALF TIME: Napoli 2-1 Udinese

8.37pmWell, what an incredible end to the half that was! Three goals in the last seven minutes have made this game very interesting indeed. Napoli took a two-goal lead courtesy of a quickfire Goran Pandev brace, both of which showed his clinical side, while an own goal right on the stroke of half time has given Udinese a passage back into this game.

8.39pmAll that came at the end of an intriguing but largely uneventful opening 35 minutes or so. It was an even contest for much of it and Udinese would have felt very good about themselves until Pandev's brace seemed to put them out of contention. However, that own goal will give them plenty of belief and they are certainly not out of this match.

8.41pmNapoli will be fuming if they let a two-goal lead go against a side who have struggled so much to find the net this season. They have already given them one helping hand with Fernandez's own goal, which must go down as a bad mistake by the defender, if they allow the visitors to get a second then it would have serious implications on their title challenge.

8.43pmSuch a scenario is definitely not out of the question, however. Udinese showed enough in the first half before the late flurry of goals to suggest that they are capable of causing the hosts problems even without Di Natale. Counter attacks were their most effective means of threatening the Napoli defence, but the onus is now on them to attack in this second half.

8.45pmStill, you feel that Napoli have a few more gears to move into in the second half, while it is hard to imagine Udinese playing too much better than they did in that opening 45 minutes, all things considered. The hosts showed that they have players capable of snapping up any chance in and around the box, while Udinese have relied on a stroke of luck to get back into the match, so Napoli will still be feeling confident going into the second half.

8.47pmAs things stand, Napoli will be moving level on points with Roma in second place at the end of the night, although Rafael Benitez's men have played a game more than their title rivals.

8.49pmThe teams filter back out onto the pitch for the second half, with Udinese the first team out. Both teams will be hoping for an early goal in the second half for very different reasons. Another for Napoli could kill the game off, while one for Udinese would make things very interesting indeed.

46 minKICKOFF: Napoli get us back underway for the second half. No changes at the break for either side.

48 minYELLOW CARD! Fernandez goes into the book early in the second half, and he can have no complaints. He scythed down Gabriel Silva and the referee wasted no time in producing the caution. Both Napoli centre-backs are now on yellow cards.

50 minHiguain has a bit of space on the right and he sees Callejon in a similar amount of room on the opposite flank. He tries to bring the Spaniard into play with a long diagonal ball, but the keeper comes out to claim.

51 minUdinese have a three on two situation but fail to make the most of it. I think it may have been Lazzari who opted against finding either of his teammates, instead going for goal alone and seeing his shot blocked.

52 minYELLOW CARD! Pandev goes into a challenge leading with his arm, and the referee immediately shows him a yellow card. There didn't seem to be any movement of the elbow towards the defender's face, which is why the card wasn't red, but Pandev does have to be careful with things like that nowadays.

54 minGood break from Napoli as Higuain and Insigne link up on the right flank. The latter plays an inviting ball into the box that Brkic shovels away under the watchful eye of Pandev, who is on a hat-trick.

55 minUdinese get away with one there! Brkic comes to collect the ball from a corner but drops it on his way down to the floor. The ball falls to Higuain in the box and he would certainly score but for the referee's whistle for a foul on the keeper. The replay shows that it was his own defender who was putting him under pressure, though, making that a very harsh decision on the hosts.

56 minCLOSE! Insigne makes his way down the right and sends a cross into the middle. The ball is cleared only as far as Callejon, who shows great technique to unleash a vicious volley towards goal. Danilo doesn't know much about it, but he gets a potentially vital touch to direct it over the bar and out for a corner.

58 minNapoli are beginning to take control of this second half now. Udinese haven't really created anything in the last 10 minutes or so and the hosts are certainly looking like the side more likely to score the game's crucial fourth goal right now.

59 minNapoli have a free kick a long way out but that doesn't deter Dzemaili. He has the ball teed up for him before drilling a powerful low effort a yard or so wide. Good effort, but it was never really troubling the keeper.

61 minLovely football from Napoli down the left side, and Insigne is involved yet again. This time he is well shepherded out by Allan, but the winger has made some probing runs in this match.

62 minPandev slips the ball through to Higuain but the former Real Madrid man just can't take the ball in his stride. He is forced to turn his back for goal, and his effort on the turn is blocked by the defence.

63 minYELLOW CARD! Bruno Fernandes is the fourth man in the book tonight and the first for Udinese. That one looks like it was more for dissent than the initial challenge.

64 minSlightly worrying moment for Brkic as he spills would should be a routine save from a very long range effort. Luckily for the Udinese keeper there were no Napoli attackers in the vicinity, allowing him to collect at the second attempt.

65 minSAVE! Callejon shows good feet on the edge of the box to create space to shoot. His effort goes through the legs of Heurtaux but is straight at Brkic, who makes the comfortable save.

67 minThere have been a couple of occasions in the last few minutes that Udinese have looked dangerous on the attack, reminding the hosts that this one is by no means dead and buried. As long as the gap remains at one point, Udinese have a chance in this match, and you'd have to think that they would have taken a point before the match, and certainly at 2-0 down.

69 minUDINESE SUB: Guidolin makes a change as he replaces Heurtaux with the Brazilian Maicosuel.

70 minGOAL! Napoli 2-2 Udinese (Bruno Fernandes)

70 minFernandez has his first Serie A goal, and what a goal it is! Napoli shoot themselves in the foot with some careless passing deep in their own half. Fernandes eventually picks a loose ball up and advances to within 25 yards of goal before drilling a brilliant, dipping drive over the keeper.

72 minGOAL! Napoli 3-2 Udinese (Blerim Dzemaili)

72 minWhat a response from Napoli! They regain their lead immediately thanks to some alert play by Dzemaili. Higuain had the initial effort, cutting inside his man before guiding a low shot towards the bottom corner. Brkic got to that one but could only parry it back into the danger area, where Dzemaili was waiting to tap in.

73 minAlmost another quickfire three-goal salvo as Maicosuel hammers a swirling drive towards goal from the edge of the box, but Rafael gets two strong fists to it to punch it away.

74 minNAPOLI SUB: There will be no hat-trick for Pandev this evening as he is replaced by Dries Mertens.

75 minSAVE! Insigne almost kills the game off as he finds space on the left flank before guiding an effort towards the far corner, but Brkic gets across well to make the save.

76 minYELLOW CARD! Dzemaili becomes the fourth Napoli player in the book and he can have no complaints. It was a cynical shirt tug designed solely to stop the rapid Pereyra.

78 minNAPOLI SUB: Perhaps because of that card, Dzemaili is being withdrawn for his compatriot Valon Behrami here. The departing player looks like being the match winner here unless Udinese can come up with something in the final 12 minutes.

80 minNapoli are looking for a fourth to kill this game off rather than defending their one-goal lead, which is always good to see. They have numbers breaking forward and Higuain tries to find Mertens with a long ball, but it goes straight through to the keeper.

81 minGOAL! Napoli 3-3 Udinese (Dusan Basta)

81 minUdinese are level again! It is terrible defending from Napoli from a corner, allowing Basta plenty of space to poke it goalwards. His initial effort is blocked and rebounds around the area before falling back to Basta, who this time pokes it over the line for the leveller.

83 minNAPOLI SUB: Immediately after the goal, Armero replaced Reveillere for the hosts.

85 minWhat a final five minutes we have in store here. It has been a superb match in terms of goals, and it could still go either way. I wouldn't like to call this one!

87 minUDINESE SUB: Naldo has come on for Bruno Fernandes for the visitors, while just before the goal Piotr Zielinski replaced Lopez.

89 minYELLOW CARD! Domizzi goes into the book for a foul on Maggio, who rolls around like he has broken his leg. He should have just bounced straight back up then as he has simply wasted valuable seconds for his team to regain the lead.

90 minNapoli are getting desperate now, and that is shown by Insigne latest effort. He gets it onto his right from a long way out before lashing a wild attempt high and wide.

90 minThere is still time for either side to find a winner here as we will have four minutes of added time.

90+2 minGreat cross in towards Higuain, who is just inches away from connecting with it. Brkic punches it away from behind the striker, but that would have been a certain goal had he been able to reach it.

90+3 minNapoli have a late corner here, and this will surely be their last chance to find a winner...

90+4 min...but it is a dreadful delivery that is cleared by the first defender. That could be that for this match.

90+4 minFULL TIME: Napoli 3-3 Udinese

9.40pmThe referee brings this match to an end, and Udinese celebrate the result as if it was a win. They came from behind twice, including once from two goals down, to rescue a draw in this match. Perhaps as importantly, they scored three goals away from home, with is a very rare occurrence for them at the moment, and they did it against one of the league's best teams and without their best striker. Not a bad result at all for the visitors!

9.42pmFor Napoli, meanwhile, it is two points dropped and they are now eight points behind Juventus and two behind Roma. To blow a two-goal lead, and then let another lead slip, will really disappoint Guidolin and his side can't afford for that to happen too often if they are to launch a genuine title challenge.

9.45pmRight, that's all we have time for this evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for what was a thrilling match between Napoli and Udinese. I certainly wasn't expecting six goals, but they shared the spoils in a fine 3-3 draw. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to check back in with us for tomorrow for plenty more live football. Until then, though, it is goodbye from me!

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