Sunday, November 23, 2014 6:49 pm
Cool-headed Cagliari fought back from a two-goal deficit to claim a precious 3-3 draw away to Napoli on Sunday, which left Rafael Benitez’s men six points behind second-placed Roma.
Juventus had restored their three-point lead at the top of Serie A with a 3-0 rout of Lazio at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday, after Roma had momentarily drawn level thanks to a 2-1 win away to Atalanta.
Napoli were hoping to make it three wins on the trot to maintain their title push but Benitez’s men blew a two-goal lead provided by Gonzalo Higuain and Gokhan Inler as tenacious Cagliari fought back to claim a share of the points.
Benitez told Sky Sport after the game: “We had the game under control, but gifted Cagliari too many chances.
“We started with the right attitude, but then we took our foot off the pedal and let our intensity drop.”
Cagliari coach Zdenek Zeman said the secret to claiming an “important point” — the Sardians are now two above the drop zone — was adopting the correct mental approach.
“If you have the right mentality, if you focus on playing football, the results will come,” said the wily veteran.
“If you’re patient, sooner or later the goal-scoring opportunities come your way.”
Higuain, who now has seven goals this season, struck for the fifth consecutive league game when he hit a curling shot from just inside the area past Alessio Cragno after 11 minutes.
Inler doubled Napoli’s lead with a daisycutter from 30 yards that had Cragno clutching at thin air, but Napoli’s two-goal joy was short-lived.
Cagliari centre-forward Victor Ibarbo pounced on a Napoli defensive blunder to fire past Rafael and reduce the arrears seven minutes before the interval.
Brazilian forward Diego Farias levelled matters two minutes after the restart when he ran unhindered to the back post to meet Luca Rossettini’s header.
Smiles were back on Napoli’s faces just after the hour when Jonathan De Guzman sent a fine angled header past the outstretched Cragno, but Farias levelled again six minutes later when he was picked out by Ibarbo’s pass at the back post.