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Napoli move up to second place

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Associated Press

Napoli midfielder Marek Hamsik kicks the ball to score the decisive goal during a Serie A soccer match against Cagliari at the Sant'Elia stadium in Cagliari, Italy, on Monday.

Rome - Napoli jumped to second place in Serie A thanks to a laboured 1-0 win at lowly Cagliari while fellow title hopefuls Inter Milan suffered a 1-0 defeat at Parma in Monday's late game.

Napoli are within two points of leaders Juventus thanks to Marek Hamsik's second-half goal which moved them above an Inter side undone by Nicola Sansone's fine late strike.

Juventus have 32 points from 14 games ahead of Napoli on 30 with Fiorentina and Inter level on 28 points after the Milan side missed the chance to narrow the gap with a poor display.

Parma had most of the possession in the first half but failed to make it count with Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic comfortably dealing with a tame Amauri shot and also keeping out attempts from the lively Jonathan Biabiany and Gabriel Paletta.

With Parma snapping at their heels and closing down the midfield, Inter struggled to find space despite the best efforts of seasoned campaigner Esteban Cambiasso, whose 36th-minute header was cleared off the line by Jaime Valdes.

The visitors had a bit more bite after the break but Parma held their nerve and continued to cut off the supply lines to Inter's ineffective front pair Diego Milito and Rodrigo Palacio.

Parma took a 75th-minute lead when Sansone ran 40m, easing his away from two defenders before calmly slotting the ball past Handanovic with a neat right-foot shot.

Inter immediately set about trying to find an equaliser, with substitute Coutinho, on for Ricardo Alvarez, linking up well with Milito before testing Parma keeper Antonio Mirante.

Parma, who have struggled to find consistency but remain unbeaten at home, showed plenty of team spirit and concentration to cope with Inter's constant pressing towards the end leaving the visitors frustrated and, at the final whistle, deflated.

The win takes Parma up to seventh on 20 points.

Napoli, without suspended striker Edinson Cavani and the injured Goran Pandev, made hard work of beating Cagliari, with Hamsik's 73rd minute goal enough to earn the three points.

The visitors looked flat at times although young striker Lorenzo Insigne went close to scoring either side of the half-hour mark, hitting the post and later dragging a shot wide.

Cagliari appealed for a penalty when Alessandro Gamberini upended midfielder Daniele Conti, who then directed a Thiago Ribeiro corner against the post just before the break.

Napoli were on the back foot for much of the second half but scored when Juan Zuniga ran into the box in the 72nd and found Hamsik who struck the ball past keeper Michael Agazzi, sparking Cagliari protests that the Slovakian was offside.

“It was a difficult game, but we did really well,” Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri told Sky Italia. “We suffered a bit during the second half, but I have to compliment my team.

Addressing his side's chances of winning Serie A, he added: “I'm really not thinking about the title. We'll see where we are at the end of the season.” - Reuters


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