Napoli beat Serie A champion Juventus 2-0 in the Italian Cup final on Sunday,inflicting the Bianconeri’s first defeat of the season in their very last match.
In Alessandro Del Piero’s final game for Juventus,Edinson Cavani broke the deadlock with a penalty shortly before the hour mark after Ezequiel Lavezzi had been brought down by Marco Storari. The Juventus goalkeeper was lucky to escape a red card.
Marek Hamsik sealed the result seven minutes from time as Napoli won its first major trophy in 22 years.
Juventus striker Fabio Quagliarella was dismissed in stoppage time for elbowing Napoli defender Salvatore Aronica in the face.
I’m very happy, Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri said.
It seemed impossible to beat Juventus this season. All the squad has done something extraordinary these past three years. Everyone talks about Cavani,Lavezzi and Hamsik,but this is an exceptional group which should be rewarded and cheered as one.
Mazzarri would not be drawn about his own future.
I have a contract until 2013 and I intend to respect it, he said. We’ll enjoy this moment and then there will be time to think of other things.
It was Juve’s first defeat in all competitions this season,having previously won 26 and drawn 16,while Napoli lifted a trophy for the first time since 1990,when it won the Serie A title. It last won the Cup in 1987.
Having waited so long to taste victory,more than 100,000 fans immediately took to the streets of Naples to celebrate. Hamsik had his own particular way of celebrating as he allowed teammates Paolo Cannavaro and Christian Maggio to cut off his trademark Mohican.
You should never be happy to lose,especially a final, Juventus coach Antonio Conte said. We should be angry and this game has to make us grow and understand that you have to always go at full pace. Today Napoli had maybe more hunger than us. It remains an extraordinary year and I don’t want to reproach the lads for anything.
Del Piero,who scored in his last league game for the club,has spent most of his career at Juventus after signing from Padova in 1993. He will leave the club in the offseason. The World Cup winning striker enjoyed a rare start and lasted 68 minutes before being substituted for Mirko Vucinic.
It’s also almost certain to be Lavezzi’s last game for Napoli with the Argentina forward set to leave after the club failed to qualify for the Champions League. The tearful player was comforted by his teammates at the end of the game.
Napoli almost got off to the perfect start when Hugo Campagnaro crossed to Juan Zuniga at the far post but Storari did well to tip his header wide.
Juventus struggled to get a sight on goal as Napoli had the better of the opening exchanges. But in the 19th minute Claudio Marchisio let fly with a powerful right-footed shot which Napoli goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis did brilliantly to keep out.
The Italian champion improved as the half went on and went close when Marcelo Estigarribia put in a dangerous-looking cross but Aronica was alert to the threat and headed clear.
Marco Borriello came close to putting Juventus in front with a wicked curling shot which flew narrowly past the left post.
His side was then unlucky not to get a penalty when Marchisio was brought down by Aronica as he shot tamely straight at De Sanctis. Replays seemed to show that Aronica fouled Marchisio first but nothing was given.
Del Piero had a free kick right at the end of the half but De Sanctis got down well to parry away the danger.
Napoli went close shortly after the break when Blerim Dzemaili broke down the left,played a swift one-two with Lavezzi,before receiving the ball back in the area and passing towards Cavani. But it was just too strong for the Uruguayan.
The southern club finally broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute after Storari brought down Lavezzi and Cavani slotted the resulting spotkick into the bottom right corner.
Juve should have leveled eight minutes later but De Sanctis again did well to keep out Arturo Vidal’s swivelling volley at full stretch.
The Napoli goalkeeper again came to his side’s rescue when Aronica deflected Simone Pepe’s strike and wrongfooted De Sanctis,but he managed to save with his feet.
Napoli all but secured victory in a classic counterattacking move. Goran Pandev raced down from the halfway line and slotted the ball across to Hamsik,who raced into the penalty area and slipped it past Storari.
To make matters worse for Juve,Quagliarella was shown a straight red card for elbowing Aronica as the two tussled in the area waiting for Andrea Pirlo to take a free kick.