Palermo puncture Napoli hopes
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Napoli's Serie A title hopes took another huge hit this afternoon with a 2-1 defeat at Palermo.

Despite going ahead after just two minutes with an Edinson Cavani penalty, the visitors conceded goals to Federico Balzaretti and Cesare Bovo as they slumped to a second successive loss.

Napoli remain six points behind leaders AC Milan with four matches remaining, and have also surrendered second spot in the table to Inter Milan, who beat Lazio.

Things looked promising for Walter Mazzarri's men when Cavani tucked away an early spot-kick after Mattia Cassani's handball.

But Palermo were undaunted by the blow and Abel Hernandez fired narrowly wide while Bovo turned a corner over from close range. Cavani had Napoli's second chance with a 20-yard strike which cleared the crossbar.

But the visitors found their lead wiped out in the 39th minute by Balzaretti, who had a simple tap-in from Giulio Migliaccio's long cross into the box.

We're very young, I know my team's strengths and weaknesses, we need to stay serene and not start making lists.
Walter Mazzarri, Napoli coach

Palermo ended the half on a sour note when coach Delio Rossi was sent to the stands by the referee for making his feelings known over a poor challenge by Napoli defender Michele Pazienza.

But they came out flying after the interval and were in front within a minute of the re-start. Christian Maggio conceded the second penalty of the match for his foul on Giulio Migliaccio, with Bovo slotting home into the bottom-right corner.

Hernandez was unfortunate not to extend Palermo's lead after 53 minutes when his strike from the centre of the area came back off the post.

Napoli then came close to equalising with home goalkeeper Salvatore Sirugi diving low to palm away a close-range header from Cristiano Lucarelli.

That was as good as it got for the visitors though, who had to keep Palermo at bay in the closing stages, with Abel Hernandez twice squandering good chances.

Mazzarri admitted after the game that his side does not have the character to win the Scudetto. "When we get close to an achievement some horses stay calm because they're used to it and others are worn out by nerves," he said.

"Those who know football know this. There are those who have been fighting for certain things for years and know how to manage their emotions. We're very young, I know my team's strengths and weaknesses, we need to stay serene and not start making lists."