Cagliari fight back to claim point at Napoli in Serie A


Cagliari twice came from behind to register an impressive 3-3 draw against Napoli in what was a thrilling end-to-end encounter at the San Paolo. Napoli went two goals up through Gonzalo Higuain and a terrific long range Gokhan Inler effort before Cagliari levelled either side of the break, through Victor Ibarbo and then Diego Farias. Jonathan de Guzman gave Napoli the lead once again before Farias brought his side back to 3-3. Napoli came into the fixture third in the Serie A table on the back of an eight-game unbeaten league run and recorded three victories in all competitions before the international break. The result on Sunday would have been all the more frustrating for Rafael Benitez's side as they missed the opportunity to close the gap on leaders Juventus to eight points. Napoli made the perfect start when, after 11 minutes, Gonzalo Higuain burst clear of the visiting defence from a throw in before finishing emphatically past visiting stopper Alessio Cragno in the bottom corner. Cagliari should have equalised in the 28th minute after Henrique gave away possession too easily and Rafael had to be on his toes to keep out the shot by Albin Ekdal. They were made to pay as moments later Napoli were two up. Cragno did brilliantly to keep out De Guzman's close-range effort but when the ball broke to Inler, the Swiss powered a 30-yard effort into the bottom corner. However, Cagliari themselves came into the game in good form having lost one of their last five and fought back, reducing the arrears eight minutes before the break. Antonio Balzano played in Ibarbo, who let the ball drift on to his right foot before planting his effort into the corner of the net. And less than two minutes into the second half they were level. From a free-kick Luca Rossettini headed the ball across the six-yard box and Farias was on hand, beating Walter Gargano to the ball and heading home. In a frenetic start to the second period Hamsik should have given his side the lead again but blazed wide when clear on goal. Cagliari almost took the lead after Farias was put through but Rafael dived to his left to tip his effort round the post. In the 61st minute Napoli were ahead once again when Christian Maggio's deep cross found an unmarked De Guzman, who headed the ball into the opposite corner at the back post. That lead lasted just six minutes and once again it was Farias who hurt Napoli. Kalidou Koulibaly lost the ball cheaply in defence and a pin-point cross from Daniele Dessena found the Brazilian, who tucked home from close range. Substitute David Lopez fired wide in the 84th minute before Farias also missed the target in added time, but after a dynamite start to the second half, the game finished somewhat tamely.