Coppa Italia success just the start for Napoli

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Napoli are celebrating their first piece of silverware for 22 years after Sunday's Coppa Italia success over Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Two second half-goals from Edinson Cavani and Marek Hamsik inflicted a rare defeat on the Bianconeri, who went into the showpiece final off the back of a 43-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

Having already secured the Scudetto without losing a single Serie 'A' game this season, Antonio Conte's side were favourites to lift the Italian Cup, and seal a remarkable domestic double in Alessandro Del Piero's farewell game for the Turin giants. But, it wasn't the swan song the 37-year-old had anticipated. The Partenopei had not read the script.

Walter Mazzarri's men started the game brightly, with real attacking intent, and created their first chance with only three minutes on the clock. Camilo Zuniga found himself unmarked after a great cross by Hugo Campagnaro, but his close-range header was tipped wide by Juve goalkeeper Marco Storari.

Moments later, Napoli were on the break again when Cavani was released by an exquisite pass from Ezequiel Lavezzi, but the Uruguayan forward was thwarted by the linesman's offside flag before he could pull the trigger.

The Azzurri's 'Three Tenors' were certainly on-song and on the half-hour mark, Hamsik fell one step short of connecting with a floating cross by Lavezzi at the far post, while Cavani was a constant menace to the Juventus defence.

The Old Lady's main threat came from Claudio Marchisio and Del Piero - who twice linked up well - first the midfielder tested Napoli goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis with a speculative effort from outside the box after collecting a pass from the veteran striker, and both players were denied again with shots moments before the interval.

After the break the game became increasingly scrappy, not helped by the conservative tactics deployed by both coaches. However, Napoli came to life again when Blerim Dzemaili whipped in a cross for Cavani, but the 25-year-old failed to connect.

With an hour on the clock, the game was tentatively poised, and the initiative swinging either way. The breakthrough came when Cavani got in behind the Juventus back line before being brought down in the box by the out-rushing Storari.

Picking himself up and dusting himself off, Cavani converted the resulting spot-kick with a low-drilled effort in the bottom right corner, the striker scoring his fifth goal in the competition and 33rd of the season in total.

Del Piero was withdrawn in the 68th minute to a standing ovation from both sets of supporters, as the curtain came down on the Italian legend's illustrious 19-year career with the Old Lady. The fairytale finish could not be found.

Juventus responded with renewed attacking intent as Arturo Vidal and Simone Pepe both went close, but De Sanctis stood firm for Napoli. And, as the Bianconeri continued to pour forward, their overcommitment was later punished when Goran Pandev played Hamsik through one-on-one, the Slovakian making no mistake as he cooly slotted past Storari to make it 2-0.

Fabio Quagliarella was sent off in the final minutes for an elbow on Salvatore Aronica, and Juventus' capitulation was complete, as Conte's men were condemned to their first defeat of 2011-12, while Napoli celebrated their first trophy success since winning the Serie A title in 1990.

"It's almost unthinkable to beat Juventus over 90 minutes when they hadn't lost all season," reflected head coach Mazzarri after the game. "It was an achievement within an achievement."

Cavani added: "We deserved this triumph. We're happy and we'll now enjoy this Coppa, as well as thinking about our future targets in Italy and in Europe.

"I share this victory with my family, the fans and all those people who have always stood by me and Napoli. They deserve this success and a lot more."

Napoli may have taken a slight step backwards following their failure to negotiate a return to the Champions League next year, after the club's fifth place finish in Serie A. But, with a Europa League campaign to look forward to next term, the players can look to build on their recent success after ending a trophy-less run that extended nearly a quarter of a century. The future remains bright in San Paolo.

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