Napoli vs. Cesena  2 - 1

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Coppa Italia: Napoli 2 Cesena 1

12 January 2012 23:49

A controversial late goal from Goran Pandev gave Napoli a 2-1 win over Cesena in the last 16 of the Coppa Italia on Thursday.

An instinctive Stefan Popescu effort had given Cesena the lead at the Stadio San Paolo, but second-half efforts from Edinson Cavani and Pandev ensured Napoli's progression to the last eight of the competition.

With a near full-strength side Napoli started better in front of their home fans, with Marek Hamsik almost connecting with a dangerous Blerim Dzemaili cross inside the opening five minutes.

Napoli looked like the only team that could take the lead, but on 20 minutes, Daniele Arrigoni's side silenced the home crowd with a goal against the run of play.

Debutant Eduardo Vargas sloppily lost possession just outside his own area, and Popescu was there to fire in first time under the body of goal keeper Antonio Rosati to give Cesena a shock 1-0 lead.

Despite that brief lapse in concentration, Walter Mazzarri's side continued to relentlessly attack the Cesena goal, but to no avail as they went into the break a goal down.

The second half began in much the same manner as the first, with the hosts having the monopoly of possession and chances.

With 65 minutes gone they finally made the breakthrough, with Cavani pouncing on a rebound after goalkeeper Nicola Ravaglia had parried a Pandev free kick.

The game opened up as both sides went in search of a winner, and it was Napoli who found it in the 86th minute via Pandev.

The Macedonia swung in a free kick from the right which caught Ravaglia napping at his near post and just crept past the line, despite vehement Cesena protests to the contrary.

The win sends Napoli through to the quarter-finals, where they will face Inter Milan or Genoa.

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Serie A table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +57 102
2 38 +47 85
3 38 +38 78
4 38 +21 65
5 38 +23 60

Serie B table

# Team MP D P
2 42 +24 72
3 42 +8 68
4 42 +10 66
5 42 +22 64
6 42 +4 63