Napoli focused on third place following draw at Udinese

Jose Maria Callejon (L) celebrates with teammate Marek Hamsik after opening the scoring at Udinese.

Dino Panato

Napoli’s hopes of catching Roma in second place effectively ended by a 1-1 draw at Udinese on Saturday.

Jose Callejon gave the Azzurri the lead in the first half, but Bruno Fernandes levelled in the 55th minute for an Udinese side who showed great pride, even with little at stake for them.

Napoli’s woes were compounded late on when Federico Fernandez was sent off, leaving them to finish the game with 10 men.

Marek Hamsik was restored to the Napoli starting XI, despite a recent dip in form, and the first chance of the game fell his way, with a header toward the top left-hand corner which was saved easily by Simone Scuffet.

Emmanuel Badu was creating problems down the Udinese left, often losing his marker and finding the whole length of the pitch in front of him, but twice his final ball was lacking.

That outlet was soon closed off by Napoli coach Rafael Benitez, who saw his side take the lead through Callejon in the 39th minute.

Duvan Zapata headed a throw-in across the area, where the Spaniard sent a powerful volley past Scuffet before the Udinese goalkeeper even had time to react.


Udinese’s reaction came swiftly, with Muriel beating the offside trap, but Pepe Reina was quick to sense the danger and even quicker off his line to get to the ball ahead of the Udinese forward in the 50th minute.

Five minutes later, a mistake by Reina gifted Udinese an equaliser.

The Spanish goalkeeper’s pass to Valon Behrami was too soft and Giampiero Pinzi intercepted to set up Fernandes, who curled his shot into the far corner.

Muriel had a goal rightly disallowed for offside in the 77th minute as Francesco Guidolin’s men looked for a winner.

Napoli, without the injured Gonzalo Higuain, lacked ideas in pursuit of a winner and had to settle for only a point, which they held on to with only 10 men after Fernandez was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Gabriel Silva.