More than 60 000 fans were expected at the San Paolo tonight to watch the home side take on Juventus for a place in the last sixteen of the TIM Cup. With neither player quite ready for a full 90 minutes, Didier Deschamps elected to start the game with Camoranesi and Del Piero on the bench. In midfield, the Frenchman went with the quintet of Marchionni, Nedved, Giannichedda, Paro and Zanetti, leaving Bojinov - looking for a third goal in as many matches - as a lone striker up front. Legrottaglie was unavailable through injury and was replaced by Birindelli, and Buffon completed the line-up, making his third appearance of the season after a triumphant summer in Germany.
Juventus kicked-off the tie and quickly set about pressuring the Napoli defence. Balzaretti and Chiellini caused trouble down the flanks with some dangerous crosses and energetic runs, while Napoli’s front line pairing of Calaiò and Bucchi were a real threat on the counter attack. In the 23rd minute, Paro slipped Bojinov through in the box with a clever chip but the Bulgarian was off-side and his neat effort on the turn would not have counted. After a period of intense pressure from the Bianconeri, it was Chiellini who broke the deadlock in the 28th minute, heading in a peach of a cross from Zanetti out on the right. Iezzo had no chance as the Juve left back slipped in unmarked to make it 1-0 to the Old Lady. The game continued at break neck pace with Juve piling on the pressure with great movement up front from Nedved, Paro and Marchionni. In the 39th minute a Napoli counter-attack paid off, Calaiò putting Bucchi through in the box to level the scores (1-1). Juve were immediately back on the attack, Zanetti having a go from the edge of the area after a neat Paro cut-back, but the Napoli defence held firm and the two teams entered the tunnel all square at the interval.
Napoli started the second half on the front foot, Domizzi forcing a headed goal-line clearance from Birindelli in the 50th minute. Four minutes later the home side were ahead, Calaiò rounding Buffon to make it 2-1 to Napoli. In the 61st minute, Deschamps rang the changes, bringing on Guzman and Del Piero for Giannichedda and Bojinov, and Juve were immediately back on the attack, Del Piero trying to force his way through the defence in the 65th minute and Guzman winning a corner seconds later after finding room in the box. In the 73rd minute Del Piero tried a curler from the right edge of the area but his shot was blocked. Balzaretti steamed in to try a left-footer on the rebound, but the right back’s shot suffered a similar fate and Napoli cleared their lines once more. By now Juventus were encamped in the home side’s half, building attack after attack in search of an equaliser. Nedved unleashed a fearsome right footer from thirty yards in the 75th minute and four minutes later, Juventus equalised. Del Piero received a quick free-kick from Zanetti on the left hand edge of the box, cut inside, and sent a right footed curler in off Iezzo’s left post to make it 2-2. There was silence in the stands as the captain celebrated his second vital goal this week. In the 83rd minute, Nedved made way for Camoranesi, but only a minute later Pià had a fantastic chance to put Napoli back in the lead; the substitute got it all wrong, sending the ball wide of the right post. In the 86th minute, Napoli soaked up the pressure and launched a counter-attack into the Juventus half. The move ended in a hectic goal line scramble, and after a sea of bodies had thrown themselves in the general direction of the ball for what seemed like several minutes, Buffon somehow emerged from the meleé with his hands on the ball. In the first minute of injury time Dalla Bona tried his luck from distance and forced a great save from Buffon, but after an additional six minutes, the referee finally blew his whistle, sending the game into extra-time.
The two teams quickly exchanged blows after the restart, Pià firing wide for Napoli, and Marchionni coming close with a close-range header after a magnificent Guzman cut-back. In the 99th minute the Bianconeri launched an artillery assault on the Napoli goal, first Balzaretti, and then Zanetti on the rebound, but the home defence managed to put some bodies in the way. On the stroke of half-time, Marchionni sent a teasing cross to the back post, Camoranesi rose highest but his powerful header was just inches too high.
The second half of extra-time began in controversial fashion, Camoranesi seeing red after a reckless challenge from Amodio. The referee sent the Juve midfielder for an early bath. After the crowd had calmed down, so did the pace of the game, but not for long. In the 115th minute, Grava joined Camoranesi in the changing rooms, receiving his second yellow of the evening after a grim challenge on Del Piero out on the right. Then came what looked like the winning goal. Balzaretti crossed in from the right in the 120th minute and found Del Piero unmarked; the Juve legend duly smashed the ball home to make it 3-2 to the Bianconeri. But the drama was not over, with the very last kick of the match, Cannavaro somehow managed to sneak the ball over the line to equalise after yet another goal line scramble. Unbelievable stuff. The match then went to penalties.
Dalla Bona: miss
Del Piero: goal
Napoli win 5-4 on penalties.
GOALS: Chiellini 28’, Bucchi 39’, Calaiò 54’, Del Piero 79’, Del Piero 120’, Cannavaro 120’
BOOKED: Grava 26’, Montervino 31’, Camoranesi 90’, Trotta 104’, Amodio 108’
SENT-OFF: Camoranesi 108’, Grava 108’
Iezzo; Grava, Cannavaro, Domizzi, Savini; Montervino (capt.), Bogliacino (Amodio 95’), Dalla Bona, De Zerbi (Pià 80’); Bucchi, Calaiò (Trotta 68’)
Subs: Gianello, Maldonado, Giubilato, Sosa
Buffon; Balzaretti, Kovac, Birindelli (capt.), Chiellini; Marchionni, Paro, Giannichedda (Guzman 61’), Zanetti, Nedved (Camoranesi 83’); Bojinov (Del Piero 61’)
Subs: Mirante, Urbano, De Ceglie, Marchisio, Chiumiento
REFEREE: Trefoloni (Siena)
ASSISTANTS: Ayroldi, Milardi
4TH OFFICIAL: Barletta