Champs League for Napoli, Inter miss out on Europe

Edinson Cavani stretched his tally to a league-leading 27 goals as Napoli secured Serie A's runner-up spot and Champions League football next season with a 3-0 win over Bologna on Wednesday.

Napoli's Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani reacts on the ground during a Serie A football match at the Renato dall'Ara stadium in Bologna on May 8, 2013. Cavani stretched his tally to a league-leading 27 goals as Napoli secured Serie A's runner-up spot and Champions League football next season with a 3-0 win over Bologna on Wednesday.

Napoli are 11 points behind Juventus, who secured their 29th league title last weekend and beat Atalanta 1-0 for their 27th win of the campaign, but cannot now be caught by AC Milan who are seven points adrift.

"We're really happy about second place, it's like a Scudetto for us," Slovakian midfielder Marek Hamsik, who scored Napoli's opener, told Sky Sport Italia.

"Now we're in the Champions League."

With Cavani a target for several top European sides, Hamsik admitted, however, it would be strange to play in the competition without the free-scoring Uruguayan.

"It's difficult to think we could be without him next season, but that's football and we just have to get on with it."

Earlier Wednesday a Mario Balotelli brace and one apiece from Sulley Muntari and Mathieu Flamini put Milan within sight of the Champions League thanks to a 4-0 rout of already-relegated Pescara.

However Massimiliano Allegri's side face a nervous last two games of the season, at home to Roma and away to Siena, before seeing if they will beat Fiorentina to third place after La Viola prevailed 1-0 away to Siena.

Whoever secures third place will have to successfully negotiate a qualifying round to get to the lucrative group stage. "We only have two games left now and it's up to us to protect this lead," said Allegri, whose job could depend on a third-place finish.

"But we all know that anything can happen in football. We have to stay focused."

Elsewhere Inter Milan's hopes of playing any kind of European football next season were derailed by a 3-1 defeat at home to Lazio.

Inter were the last Italian team to win the Champions League, under Jose Mourinho in 2010, but their 15th defeat in what has been an injury-plagued campaign left them 33 points behind Juventus and seven behind fifth-placed Udinese in the final Europa League spot as Lazio moved up to sixth.

Inter had a terrible start when 'keeper Samir Handanovic turned the ball into his own net following a cross by Antonio Candreva.

The hosts levelled just after the half hour when Ricardo Alvarez beat Federico Marchetti with a header which left the forward nursing a sore face.

Inter missed several chances and paid the price when Lazio were awarded a penalty on the stroke of half-time following Andrea Ranocchia's blatant trip on Sergio Floccari.

Anderson Hernanes stepped up to give Lazio the lead and Inter suffered more misfortune in the second half when Alvarez slipped and missed from the spot after Fredy Guarin had won a penalty.

Lazio virtually killed the game off when 20-year-old Nigerian Ogenyi Onazi, a second-half substitute, scored a screamer from 25 metres.

Parma secured a 1-0 win at Cagliari, a result which kept both sides in mid-table, while Torino and Genoa, both sitting just above the relegation zone, played out a scoreless draw.

Palermo, meanwhile, had been looking for the points that would pull them clear of the drop zone but despite their endeavours in a five-goal thriller with Udinese they were left third from bottom, four points adrift of Genoa.

After a fairly eventless first half Hamsik broke the deadlock for Napoli when he collected Blerim Dzemaili's short pass on the left to send a swerving shot inside the post of 'keeper Dejan Stojanovic.

Cavani doubled Napoli's lead just after the hour mark from the spot after the teenage 'keeper had hauled the Uruguayan down as he chased the ball.

Dzemaili gave Napoli a comfortable 3-0 cushion minutes later after he finished off a great run by Cavani, who had been bundled off the ball, by smashing the ball past Stojanovic.

About the author

Writer: AFP
Position: News agency