September 23, 2012
Ten-man Catania bravely hold Napoli
Napoli dropped their first points of the Serie A season as they were held to a goalless draw at Catania - despite playing for virtually the entire match against ten men.
The hosts had defender Pablo Alvarez sent off after only two minutes for a last-man foul on Edinson Cavani at the Stadio Angelo Massimino, but the visitors were unable to find the breakthrough.
The result left Walter Mazzarri's side two points behind leaders Juventus and saw Catania slip to eighth.
The Partenopei headed to Sicily in fine form having scored eight goals in three comprehensive league victories and having swept aside AIK Solna 4-0 in the Europa League on Thursday night.
And they looked set to go one up in the early stages this afternoon when free-scoring striker Cavani burst through - until he was cynically brought down by Alvarez. The Argentinian defender was shown a straight red card but the free-kick came to nothing.
Napoli made their numerical advantage tell in terms of possession and chances thereafter, but could find no way past Rossazzurri goalkeeper Mariano Andujar.
Blerim Dzemaili's right-wing cross found Cavani only for the Uruguayan to completely miss the ball in the box after 13 minutes.
Dzemaili and Cavani tried their luck from distance but both efforts sailed harmlessly over the bar.
The visitors got closer as the half wore on, Juan Zuniga's clever back-heel setting up Marek Hamsik for a shot which drifted inches wide of the right post and then Cavani seeing his left-footed blast punched to safety by Andujar.
The second half continued in the same vein, with Napoli very much on the front foot - but not unduly troubling Andujar.
Hamsik and substitute Eduardo Vargas let fly from distance - but failed to direct their efforts on target.
Vargas then headed narrowly wide from Christian Maggio's 78th-minute cross with Napoli seemingly running out of ideas.
Napoli goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis had been a spectator for much of the game but needed to be alert to preserve his side's point four minutes from time, diving to his left to keep out Alejandro Gomez's right-footed drive.
Gomez had another sight of goal two minutes later but, with De Sanctis well beaten, was denied by the post.