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Napoli go 3rd as Mazzarri makes winning return


Napoli go 3rd as Mazzarri makes winning return

Walter Mazzarri made a winning return as Napoli coach on Saturday (Nov 25) with the champions' hard-fought 2-1 victory at Atalanta, while AC Milan held on to third in Serie A after beating Fiorentina 1-0.

Eljif Elmas netted the decisive goal 11 minutes from the end at the Gewiss Stadium in Bergamo after Khvicha Kvaratskhelia's headed opener for the away side on the stroke of half-time was levelled by a similar strike from Ademola Lookman. North Macedonia midfielder Elmas rolled home the winner from substitute Victor Osimhen's pass following Atalanta goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi's poor clearance, making sure that Napoli stayed fourth.

Mazzarri's team are still seven points behind leaders Inter Milan who travel to Turin on Sunday for the weekend's big match at second-placed Juventus.

Mazzarri returned to Napoli last week after Rudi Garcia was sacked, reprising a role he left just over a decade ago after being the man to take southern Italy's biggest club back to the upper echelons of Italian football. The 62-year-old guided Napoli to the 2012 Italian Cup, beating undefeated league champions Juventus in the final to win the club's first major trophy in over two decades, and to second in Serie A one year later before leaving for Inter Milan.

And he took three points from Saturday's even clash, his team recovering from Lookman's 53rd-minute equaliser and being saved from going behind in the 68th minute when Mario Pasalic's finish was ruled out for Teun Koopmeiners straying offside.

Mazzarri will also be boosted by Osimhen recovering from his hamstring injury in time for Wednesday's Champions League trip to Real Madrid.

Napoli are second in Group C, five points behind leaders Madrid and four ahead of third-placed Braga, who take on Union Berlin, with two games remaining.

Hernandez down Fiorentina
Napoli were briefly third but Milan moved back above their rivals thanks to Theo Hernandez's penalty in a win in which 15-year-old Francesco Camarda became the youngest ever player to play in Serie A. France full-back Hernandez calmly slotted home from the spot in first-half stoppage time after being brought down by Fabiano Parisi.

That was the highlight of an underwhelming performance from Milan, who were without suspended Olivier Giroud, Noah Okafor, star man Rafael Leao and others for their first win in five league matches.

Portugal winger Leao will also miss Tuesday's visit of Borussia Dortmund which could be crucial to Milan's Champions League hopes.

A host of absences led to teen attacker Camarda being called up from Milan's youth ranks and brought on with seven minutes remaining, replacing Luka Jovic who moments before missed a golden chance to net his first goal for the club.

And deep in stoppage time Mike Maignan saved the win with a stunning stop to deny Rolando Mandragora just as the Italian looked certain to equalise from inches out.

Lazio fell 2-1 at the division's bottom team Salernitana, losing thanks to a wonder strike from old boy Antonio Candreva.

Maurizio Sarri's side are 10th on 17 points following their sixth defeat of what has been a difficult league season after finishing second last term.

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