• Napoli beats Cagliari to pull clear in Serie A


    MILAN: Napoli pulled four points clear at the top of Serie A on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) with a 5-0 hammering of Cagliari a day after champions Juventus’ game in Turin was snowed off.

    Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens gave Maurizio Sarri’s side a comfortable two-goal lead at the break with a goal from captain Marek Hamsik, a Lorenzo Insigne penalty and Mario Rui’s free-kick sealing a 10th straight league win.

    Napoli are targeting a third Serie A title and first since 1990, with their sole focus now on the Scudetto after their Europa League and Italian Cup exits.

    Napoli’s Slovakian midfielder Marek Hamsik (left) is tackled during the Italian Serie A football match between Cagliari and Napoli at Sardinia stadium in Cagliari on Tuesday. AFP PHOTO

    “It’s an important result,” said Napoli forward Insigne. “We are ahead but it depends on us, we must always win. Juve never give up, but we have shown we have great character and big heart.

    “We’re playing every game as if it were a final. We hope it will pay off in the end.”

    And in Sardinia they dominated Cagliari – who are just five points above the drop zone – as snow wreaked havoc on the Italian Peninsula.

    Sunday’s Serie A game between champions Juventus and Atalanta in Turin was postponed because of blizzard-like conditions in northern Italy.

    Napoli have 69 points from 26 matches, four points ahead of Juventus, who have a game in hand, with Lazio moving up to third after Sunday’s 3-0 win over Sassuolo.

    “I hope to get to 100 points,” said Sarri. “But for us it would be unknown territory, we don’t know if we can get there.

    “I told the lads that of the 12 games left we have to win 11 and draw one,” he added with Napoli’s next two games against Roma and Inter Milan.

    Cagliari gave a first start to North Korean forward Han Kwang-Song who has returned to the Mediterranean island from a loan spell at Perugia.

    Brazilian Allan set up Callejon for the opener after 29 minutes and, three minutes before the break, Mertens finished off an Elseid Hysaj cross.

    Cagliari also had their chances but Leonardo Pavoletti was off target twice with Pepe Reina denying Han.

    But after the break Napoli dominated with Hamsik getting the third on the hour mark for his sixth in the league this season.

    Insigne then converted a penalty awarded after Leandro Castan raised his hand to clear, with Rui completing the rout with a free kick, condemning Cagliari to their 15th defeat of the season.



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