Napoli secure draw at Novara
© AFP

Blerim Dzemaili struck a late equaliser as Napoli earned a point with a 1-1 draw at Novara.

Ivan Radovanovic put the hosts into a deserved lead in the 70th minute but, just as Novara looked to be heading for their third win of the campaign, Dzemaili levelled with six minutes to go.

The result at the Silvio Piola stadium left Napoli in fifth place in Serie A, while Novara dropped to 19th, three points from safety. Napoli, looking for their first win away from home in the league since 1 October, struggled against a defiant Novara.

The visitors went into the game on the back of a 2-0 midweek triumph at Villarreal that saw them progress to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League for the first time, but the hosts had the better start.

In the seventh minute, Michel Morganella fed Andrea Mazzarani inside the area and his right-footed strike went wide. Napoli goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis then kept out Giuseppe Gemiti's bullet strike from outside the area.

Visitors fall behind
Napoli had their first chance after 15 minutes when Goran Pandev nodded Hugo Campagnaro's cross over the bar. On the half-hour mark, Novara's Marco Rigoni should have done better but headed the ball into the stands from a good position.

Before half-time, Christian Maggio tried his luck from distance and his effort was saved by Novara goalkeeper Samir Ujkani. Novara looked more dangerous in the second half and should have gone in front on the hour mark. Radovanovic found Mazzarani deep in the area and he fired over the bar with only De Sanctis left to beat.

The hosts' efforts finally paid off when Radovanovic's powerful free-kick beat De Sanctis at the far post. Napoli almost equalised in the 80th minute, but Ujkani kept out Ezequiel Lavezzi's powerful strike from 25 yards.

But the visitors pressed in search of an equaliser and were rewarded. Marek Hamsik found Dzemaili inside the area and he fired past Ujkani to hand his team a share of the spoils.