SSC Napoli kept their slim Serie A title hopes alive on Saturday with a 3-0 win at bottom side Delfino Pescara 1936, while Udinese jumped into fifth place thanks to a 1-0 victory at Cagliari.
Second-half goals from Gohkan Inler, Goran Pandev and Blerim Dzemaili put Napoli on 69 points, eight behind leaders Juventus, who traveled to local rivals Torino yesterday.
Roberto Pereyra’s curling strike after 56 minutes was enough to put Francesco Guidolin’s Udinese on 54 points, one ahead of Inter, who were visiting relegation-threatened US Citta di Palermo yesterday.
Bologna had an Alberto Gilardino goal to thank for a 1-1 draw at Atalanta BC in Saturday’s early kickoff after he canceled out Luigi Giorgi’s 67th-minute opener with 14 minutes left.
Cagliari, who had striker Mauricio Pinilla sent off in stoppage-time, stayed 10th on 42 points, two points and one place above Bologna.
Atalanta BC leapfrogged UC Sampdoria into 14th spot on 39 points, 10 clear of the relegation zone, while Pescara stayed bottom on 23 points.
Napoli dominated the opening exchanges, but without striker Edinson Cavani they were initially less than clinical in front of goal, with Miguel Britos and Lorenzo Insigne wasting good chances to head their side in front during the first half an hour.
Insigne thought he had given the visitors the lead with a powerful finish after Dzemaili’s tackle saw the ball drop to him just inside the area, but his effort was ruled out as the Napoli players celebrated.
Pescara, who had to win to have any realistic chance of Serie A survival, could have taken a shock lead in the 38th minute when Giuseppe Sculli was put through, only for the striker to scoop his shot over the bar.
However, Inler put Napoli in front 41 seconds after the interval when the ball broke to him and his long-range shot took a huge deflection, which helped the ball past already committed Pescara goalkeeper Ivan Pelizzoli.
That slice of luck calmed Napoli’s nerves and, although Sculli forced a decent save from Morgan de Sanctis with a header in the 57th minute, Pandev doubled their lead a minute later.
The Macedonian brilliantly controlled a drilled Christian Maggio cross, before spinning and calmly stroking the ball home.
Insigne should have scored in the 80th minute when, after racing clean through on goal, he dragged a poor shot wide, but Napoli had their third two minutes later when Dzemaili thumped an unstoppable drive from distance into the top corner.